Turkish President claims Saudi officials planned to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi 'in a savage way'
- Jamal Khashoggi went missing on October 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul
- The journalist was a strong critic of the Saudi government and royal family
- Turkish President reveals new details of killing
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan revealed this morning there were strong signs Jamal Khashoggi's killing was planned and attempts to blame it on intelligence operatives "will not satisfy us".
In a speech to parliament, Erdogan did not mention Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who some U.S. lawmakers suspect ordered the killing. But he said Turkey would not complete its investigation into Khashoggi's death until all questions were answered.
"Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned.... Pinning such a case on some security and intelligence members will not satisfy us or the international community," he said.
Erdogan said the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body were still unknown and he demanded Saudi Arabia reveal the identity of a "local cooperator" who purportedly took the body.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, disappeared three weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents.
Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting the killing of the 59-year-old. Erdogan made no reference to any audio recording in his speech.
Riyadh initially denied knowledge of his fate before saying he was killed in a fight in the consulate. That version of events was greeted sceptically by several Western governments, straining relations with the world's biggest oil exporter.
Erdogan said three operatives arrived in Istanbul the day before his killing on an apparent reconnaissance mission. The next day 15 people came to the consulate.
"Why did these 15 people meet in Istanbul on the day of the murder? We are seeking answers to this. Who are these people receiving orders from?" Erdogan said.
Following the global outrage prompted by the journalist's disappearance, U.S. President Donald Trump's comments have varied from playing down Riyadh's role to warning of possible economic sanctions.
Trump has also repeatedly highlighted the kingdom's importance as a U.S. ally and said Prince Mohammed was a strong and passionate leader.
For Saudi Arabia's allies, the question will be whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability. King Salman, 82, has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to the 33-year-old prince.
- Read More: Explainer: Why is the disappearance of an investigative journalist threatening international relations?
Who is Jamal Khashoggi?
Jamal Khashoggi is a well-known Saudi Arabian journalist and author, who served as editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel and editor for Saudi newspaper Al Watan.
Mr Khashoggi is best known for his critical reporting of the Saudi Arabian government and in particular their Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and king, Salman of Saudi Arabia. He also opposed the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.
Fearing arrest and even fearing for his life, the journalist fled his native country to the United States and lived there for over a year in self-imposed exile. In that time, the 59-year-old was a regular columnist in the Washington Post. In an article for the newspaper titled “Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable,” he criticised the Crown Prince, bin Salman.
Donald Trump weighs in
US president Donald Trump said he is not satisfied with the explanations he has heard about Mr Khashoggi's death.
He said: "We're going to get to the bottom of it. We have people over in Saudi Arabia now. We have top intelligence people in Turkey. They're coming back either tonight or tomorrow."
"We're going to know a lot over the next two days about the Saudi situation.
"It's a very sad thing."
Mr Trump spoke on Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the son of Saudi King Salman.
"He says he is not involved nor is the king," Mr Trump told USA Today .
The newspaper said Mr Trump declined to say whether he believed the crown prince's denials. If their involvement was proven, Mr Trump said: "I would be very upset about it. We'll have to see."