Press TV – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has urged Saudi Arabia to answer questions over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
“There are still questions that need answers” over the premeditated murder, Cavusoglu said on Thursday, asking Riyadh to explain “who gave them the orders” and “where the body is”.
He pointed to an announcement by Saudi authorities that they had arrested 18 men in connection with the death, urging Riyadh to explain why they had been arrested.
“You admit they did it, but why are they not saying where?” Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.
‘Turkey not taking Khashoggi case to international court’
Cavusoglu, however, noted Turkey had no intention of taking Khashoggi case to an international court, but was ready to share information if an international investigation was launched.
“We are already carrying out a probe ourselves. We are cooperating with anyone who wants to cooperate. Saudi Arabia had suggestions on this matter and we didn’t say no to them, but for the moment taking the case to international court is not on the agenda,” he said, adding, “For the moment, we don’t have the intention to do that.”
The Turkish foreign minister said, however, that “if international institutions or courts take initiative and start such an investigation, as Turkey, of course we will share the information and evidences we have as well as the results of our investigation. We are obliged to do that anyway.”
Cavusoglu’s comments came days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all those behind the murder should be brought to justice and tried in Istanbul.
“My demand is that the 18 people be tried in Istanbul,” Erdogan said in an address to lawmakers from his ruling party at the parliament in Ankara on Tuesday on the case of Khashoggi, who was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Khashoggi murder premeditated: Saudi prosecutor
A joint Saudi-Turkish investigation shows that Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated,” Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said Thursday, dismissing an earlier account that the dissident journalist had died in a botched operation to “negotiate” his return to the kingdom.
“Information from the Turkish side affirms that the suspects in Khashoggi’s case premeditated their crime,” said a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor.
The statement said Saudi prosecutors were interrogating suspects on the basis of information provided by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force.
Ankara and Western allies of Riyadh have voiced deep doubts about Saudi explanations. Turkey has dismissed Saudi efforts to blame rogue operatives for the killing and urged the kingdom to search “top to bottom” for those responsible for the murder.
An adviser to Erdogan has said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has “blood on his hands” in the murder.
“It is a disgrace that reaches all the way to Crown Prince [Mohammed bin] Salman. At least five members of the execution team are [Mohammed bin] Salman’s right hands and are people that wouldn’t act without his knowledge,” Ilnur Cevik, an adviser to Erdogan, wrote in a column in the Yeni Birlik newspaper.
“Even if US President Trump saves [Mohammed bin] Salman, in the eyes of the world, he is a questionable person with Khashoggi’s blood on his hands,” Cevik wrote.
Trump has stopped his initial support for the Saudi crown prince for now, saying bin Salman bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Khashoggi’s killing.
In his toughest comments yet, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he wanted to believe the prince when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the killing at the Saudi mission.
But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”
Khashoggi’s son leaves Saudi Arabia for US with family
Human Rights Watch reported later on Thursday that the eldest son of the murdered Saudi journalist and his family had left the kingdom after the Saudi government lifted a travel ban imposed on him.
“Salah and his family are on a plane to (Washington) DC now,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s executive director for the Middle East and North Africa, was quoted by AFP as saying.
A few hours later, two sources close to the family told Reuters that Salah and his family had arrived in Washington.
According to one source, Salah Khashoggi holds dual U.S.-Saudi citizenship.
Salah’s departure came a day after a meeting at the al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh in which he and other family members received condolences from King Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.