Friday 19 July 2019

Vehicle movements tracked in Turkey’s hunt for missing journalist’s remains

Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

A man waits to enter Saudi Arabia’s consulate (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)
A man waits to enter Saudi Arabia’s consulate (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

By Ayse Wieting and Suzan Fraser

Investigators in Turkey are looking into the possibility that the remains of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been taken to a forest in the outskirts of Istanbul or to another city.

Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi crown prince, is thought to have been killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

An official said police have established that two vehicles belonging to the consulate, left the building on October 2, the day Mr Khashoggi had walked into the consulate and vanished.

One of the vehicles travelled to the nearby Belgrade Forest while the other travelled to the city of Yalova, across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul, the official said.

It was not immediately clear if police had already searched the areas.

Turkish reports say Mr Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered inside the consulate by members of an assassination squad with ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudis have dismissed those reports as baseless but have yet to explain what happened to Mr Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who wrote critically of Prince Mohammed’s rise to power.

President Donald Trump, who first came out hard on the Saudis over the disappearance but had since has backed off, said on Thursday that it “certainly looks” as though Mr Khashoggi is dead.

A man identified by Turkish officials as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, walks outside the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul (Sabah/AP)

He said the consequences for the Saudis “will have to be very severe” if they are found to have killed him.

The pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday reported that an audio recording of Mr Khashoggi’s death suggests a Saudi team accosted him after he entered the consulate, cutting off his fingers and later decapitating him.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who visited Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week, told reporters on a plane to Mexico that he has neither seen nor heard such a recording.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also denied sharing any audio recordings with US officials, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Virginia Mayo/AP)

During a visit to Albania, Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey would share “with the world” the results of its investigation into Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Also Friday, Turkey’s pro-government Sabah newspaper printed more surveillance camera photographs allegedly showing members of a Saudi team that was brought in to Turkey to dispose of Mr Khashoggi.

A leaked surveillance photo published by the same paper on Thursday showed that a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage during several trips abroad had walked into the Saudi consulate, just before the writer disappeared there on October 2.

Turkish investigators at work (Emrah Gurel/AP)

The man, identified by Turkish officials as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has been photographed in the background of Prince Mohammed’s trips to the United States, France and Spain this year.

This week, Turkish crime scene investigators searched the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul and carried out a second search of the consulate itself.

Authorities have not said specifically what they found, although technicians carried out bags and boxes from the consul general’s home.

He left Turkey on Tuesday.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News