Turkey's justice minister warns 'no one can avoid responsibility' for Khashoggi killing
Saudi Arabiaâs chief prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, walks to board a plane to leave Istanbul on Oct. 31, 2018. (DHA/AP) November 1 at 2:51 PM
ISTANBUL â" Turkeyâs justice minister warned Saudi officials Thursday that those responsible for Jamal Khashoggiâs death must be held responsible, amid growing frustration among Turkish officials over what they say is Saudi Arabiaâs refusal to help investigate the journalistâs killing.
âNo one can avoid responsibility. .â.â. It is not an issue that can be covered up,â Abdulhamit Gul told reporters in the Turkish capital, Ankara. âWe expect the Saudi authorities to engage in close cooperation on this issue,â he said , according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
His remarks came one day after Saudi Arabiaâs chief prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, departed Istanbul after a three-day visit in which he held at least two meetings with his Turkish counterpart. That visit, Turkish officials said, has been a source of frustration for Turkish investigators probing the death of Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.
Turkeyâs public prosecutor, exasperated by Mojebâs refusal to answer questions, prepared a last-minute statement Wednesday detailing how Khashoggi was killed, officials said. This revealed for the first time that he was strangled almost immediately after he entered the consulate.
In the statement, the Turkish prosecutor, Irfan Fidan, said the Saudi visit produced âno concrete results.â
âIt was to let the world know that there had been no cooperation, no collaborationâ on the part of the Saudi delegation, a senior Turkish official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss deliberations over the statement.
The Saudi prosecutor, the official said, âdid not come to share what evidence they have. So it created a lack of trust.â
Saudi officials have refrained from commenting on the talks between the Saudi prosecutor and Turkish officials.
Khashoggi, 59, was once close to the Saudi royal family but fell out of favor with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia last year and was living in exile in the United States, where he wrote for The Washington Postâs Global Opinions section.
He traveled to Turkey last month to obtain paperwork in preparation for his marriage to Hatice Cengiz, his Turkish fiancee, and was last seen entering the consulate Oct. 2.
For weeks, Saudi officials denied any knowledge of Khashoggiâs whereabouts but eventually acknowledged that he was killed by a team of Saudi agents, who flew to Turkey e arlier that day.
Turkeyâs prosecutor asked his Saudi counterpart key questions about the killing âbut did not receive a reply,â said Gul. âWe expect these questions to be answered as soon as possible,â he said, adding that Turkey would âdeepenâ its investigation if Saudi officials failed to adequately respond.
Turkish officials had wanted the Saudi delegation to reveal the location of Khashoggiâs body, identify what Saudi officials said was a âlocal collaboratorâ who disposed of the remains and reveal who ordered the killing. At the very least, the Turkish official said, Fidan expected the Saudi prosecutor to provide statements from the suspects. Saudi authorities last month said they had arrested 18 people for their alleged involvement Khashoggiâs death.
But, the official said, the Saudi delegation âdidnât share anything that wasnât already known.â
âThis resistance to providing information, it makes it seem like they are t rying to protect someone â" someone they want kept out of the investigation,â he said.
What irked investigators most, according to the official, was Mojebâs interest in accessing Khashoggiâs cellphones. âIt seemed that they were looking for his contacts and who he spoke to,â the official said. âWe are afraid that if this information is shared with Saudi Arabia, Khashoggiâs friends would be in danger.â
According to Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist for Turkeyâs Hurriyet newspaper who is close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mojeb also asked repeatedly to listen to an audio that Turkish officials say reveals what transpired inside the consulate. Turkey has played the audio for CIA Director Gina Haspel but has not released it publicly.
Turkey says that the killing of Khashoggi was premeditated and that the investigation could implicate senior Saudi officials in the plot. Turkish investigators have gradually released information, apparently in part to pressure the Saudi leadership to act.
As part of that strategy, officials released video footage of the suspects â" including an alleged body double dressed in Khashoggiâs clothes â" as evidence of planning.
Zeynep Karatas and Louisa Loveluck contributed to this report.
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