Order to Kill Khashoggi Came from 'Highest Levels' of Saudi Regime, Erdogan Says
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The order to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi came from the “highest levels” of Saudi government, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, calling for the “puppetmasters” to be unmasked.
Erdogan wrote he did not believe “for a second” that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had ordered “the hit”, in an opinion article for The Washington Post, although he refrained from directly accusing the Middle Eastern kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi, a columnist for the newspaper, frequently criticized the Saudi government. He disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The Saudi government initially insisted Khashoggi had left the consulate, but later admitted that he died in an unplanned “rogue operation”. The kingdom’s public prosecutor Saud Mojeb subsequently said that the attack was premeditated.
Accusing the Saudi consul in Istanbul of lying “through his teeth”, Erdogan accused Mojeb of refusing to cooperate, stalling the process and not answering simple questions.
“As responsible members of the international community, we must reveal the identities of the puppetmasters behind Khashoggi’s killing,” he wrote. He added that the Saudi officials who were still trying to cover up the killing should be discovered.
In a stern warning to Turkey’s near neighbor, he said, “No one should dare to commit such acts on the soil of a Nato ally again. If anyone chooses to ignore that warning, they will face severe consequences.”
The opinion piece was published less than 24-hours after one of his advisers said Saudi government operatives had “dissolved” Khashoggi’s body after murdering and dismembering him.
Yasin Aktay, who was also a friend of the slain columnist, told the Hurriyet newspaper that Khashoggi was strangled upon entering the Saudi consulate, his body was cut up into pieces to then make it easier to dissolve.
“We knew that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered,” Aktay told the newspaper. “But now we see that they didn’t just cut it up, they dissolved the body. According to the latest information, the reason why they broke up the body is to make it dissolve more easily. It was meant to leave no trace of the body.”
Citing an unnamed Turkish official, The Washington Post also reported that Khashoggi’s body had been dissolved using acid or another chemical agent.
“The murder of an innocent person is one crime,” said Aktay, who was the first government official contacted by Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, after he went missing. “The treatment of the body is a separate crime.”