“Covering up such a brutal act would wound the conscience of all mankind,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of parliament in Ankara, speaking about the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “brutally murdered” as part of a meticulous plan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday. Erdogan called for Saudi Arabia to share facts about the case; he also suggested the suspects should be tried in Turkey.
“Neither the Vienna Convention nor other international laws allow the investigation into such a brutal murder to be cloaked behind the shield of diplomatic immunity,” the president said.
Erdogan made the remarks in a much-anticipated speech about Khashoggi’s killing — remarks that he timed to coincide with Saudi Arabia’s high-profile Future Investment Initiative summit, often called “Davos in the Desert.”
It’s previously been reported that a 15-member team traveled from Saudi Arabia to Turkey just before Khashoggi disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. In his speech to Turkey’s parliament, Erdogan said the teams arrived in separate groups — two sets of three people and one group of nine.
“The information and evidences uncovered so far show that Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered,” Erdogan said. “Covering up such a brutal act would wound the conscience of all mankind.”
For more than two weeks, the Saudis denied Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate, claiming he left within an hour. Video footage even shows an apparent “body double” — a man approximately the same height as Khashoggi and wearing some of his clothes — leaving the consulate by a back door.
Last Friday, Riyadh acknowledged Khashoggi died in the consulate, but insisted it was an accident after he was placed in a chokehold.
In addition to dismissing the Saudi version of events, Erdogan says the 18 people under arrest in Saudi Arabia in connection with Khashoggi’s death should be returned to Turkey to stand charges.
“The incident took place in Istanbul,” he said. “Therefore the adjudication of these … 18 people should be carried out in Istanbul, that is my proposal.”
Pressing for full disclosure of who ordered the operation that led to the killing, Erdogan also said “leaving some security and intelligence forces holding the bag will not satisfy – neither us nor the international community.”
Turkey is pursuing the case, Erdogan said, as both a “representative of humanity’s shared conscience and also for its sovereign rights.”
CIA Director Gina Haspel is traveling to Ankara, where she’s expected to review the evidence Turkish investigators have gathered — possibly including audio recordings that anonymous investigators have spoken about to journalists, but that have not been shared to date, according to Turkish officials.
Erdogan spoke about Khashoggi’s killing for roughly 20 minutes, beginning his remarks with what he called a “refresh” of the events surrounding Khashoggi’s death.
The first of the three groups arrived in Turkey at 4:30 in the afternoon on the day before the killing, Erdogan said, adding that both that group and the next set of three Saudis took commercial flights. Next, “a third team of nine people, including generals,” arrived on a private plane he said.
After staying in hotels, the 15 Saudis convened at the consulate about an hour before Khashoggi was due to arrive, the president said.
“The first thing they did is to remove the hard disk in the camera system of the consulate,” Erdogan said.
Preparations were also under way as those groups were en route to Turkey, Erdogan said, describing how a car left the consulate for an “exploration mission” to the Belgrad Forest on the outskirts of Istanbul.
Erdogan’s comments come after the international community expressed widespread skepticism over Saudi Arabia’s shifting explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance.
After initially insisting that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia changed its response to the questions about the journalist. On Friday, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Khashoggi is dead — but its official statement blamed his death on a fight that broke out at the consulate. The Saudi Press Agency also said 18 Saudis had been arrested as part of a search for “all the facts.”
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir blamed the killing on “a rogue operation” and said his country would investigate.Share