Erdogan disputes Saudi version, says Khashoggi’s murder was planned

In a speech on Tuesday, the Turkish president said a Saudi team had conducted a reconnaissance operation before the murder. He demanded that those involved at all levels be arrested following an independent probe.

October 23, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch
CNN released footage of an alleged body double walking around in the clothes Khashoggi was last seen wearing. The body double was later revealed to be part of a 15-member Saudi team.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate on October 2 was “planned” beforehand. In a speech to the Turkish Parliament at Ankara, Erdogan said that there existed several questions that still needed to be answered by Saudi officials. He had earlier said that Turkey would reveal the “naked truth” about the killing of Khashoggi.

“The Saudi authorities have taken an important step confirming the killing and now we ask Saudi authorities to work hard to reveal the names of those involved, from the bottom to the top,” Erdogan said. “There are also questions in every mind; why did those 15 people gather in Istanbul on the day they committed the crime and … according to instructions given to them by whom? We need to know,” he added.

He also demanded that the Saudis divulge the identity of a suspected local collaborator. While he did not release any audio clips as had been expected, he did reveal that a Saudi team had conducted a reconnaissance operation prior to the murder in which they allegedly looked for places to dispose of the body. He also called for an independent investigation into the murder. Erdogan’s talk coincided with a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been accused by many of being involved in the murder, was supposed to speak at the conference but opted out at the last minute. Erdogan pointedly avoided mentioning the crown prince in his speech even while declaring that he did not doubt the sincerity of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The lack of major explosive details in the speech has strengthened the suspicion of experts that Erdogan is negotiating a deal with the US and Saudi Arabia, so as to win concessions on contentious issues between the countries.

CNN had on Sunday played footage from CCTV cameras in Istanbul of a body double of Jamal Khashoggi, walking around in the city wearing what appeared to be clothes that he was wearing before entering the Saudi consulate. A Turkish official was quoted by CNN as saying that the man was Mustafa Al Madani, a member of the 15-man Saudi squad sent to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi.

Saudi state media had on Saturday reported that Khashoggi was killed in a brawl with Saudi officials in the consulate, after two weeks of denying that his death took place inside the building. The Saudi public prosecutor confirmed the same, adding that 18 Saudi nationals had been arrested as part of the investigation. State media in Saudi Arabia was also quoted as saying that two senior officials, royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri, had been fired.

Following the Saudi admission regarding Khashoggi’s killing, leaders of various European countries, as well as several US senators, condemned the killing and expressed doubt over the credibility of the Saudi statements. The UN and Amnesty International were among the organizations that demanded a transparent investigation. Germany, France and the UK also issued a joint statement condemning the murder, saying that there was an “urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened.”

Later, German chancellor Angela Merkel decided to freeze all German arms exports to Saudi Arabia.