- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he wanted the 18 suspects Saudi Arabia had identified in connection to the journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death to be tried on Turkish soil.
- He proposed asking Saudi Arabia to extradite the 18 men.
- Erdogan also called on Saudi King Salman “to do what it takes because the crime has taken place in Istanbul and we need to know.”
- His speech, however, did little to advance the narrative of what happened to Khashoggi or to address previous rumours about the case.
Turkey’s president suggested Tuesday that he might formally ask for the extradition of the 18 men Saudi Arabia is holding responsible for the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia detained 18 suspects and dismissed a top general after acknowledging that Khashoggi died in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Having earlier denied knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, Riyadh now attributes the death to a “fistfight,” a narrative that remains at odds with details leaked by Turkish officials over the past few weeks.
“I propose to file a suit against the 18 people who have taken part in this crime in Istanbul,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party on Tuesday. “This is just my proposal.”
Erdogan said that 15 of the 18 men flew from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared, while the three others were already in the consulate.
In his Tuesday speech, Erdogan added that he would use Shariah, international law, and Saudi law, as well as the help of the Saudi king, to get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s death.
“I urge the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, to do what it takes because the crime has taken place in Istanbul and we need to know,” Erdogan said.
The custodian of the two holy mosques is a deferential title used in the Islamic world acknowledging Saudi King Salman as the ruler responsible of the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Erdogan on Tuesday also accused Saudi officials of planning the killing days before Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate and said the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body were still unknown.
The speech fell short of the promise Erdogan made to reveal the truth about Khashoggi’s case “in all its nakedness.” Authorities promised that Tuesday’s statement would reveal new facts about the killing, but the speech did little to advance the narrative shaped by leaks from Turkish investigators and officials or to confirm previous gruesome rumours.
Erdogan did not mention audio and video recordings of Khashoggi’s death, which Turkish intelligence officers have anonymously claimed to have. US and European intelligence officers have said they have not reviewed such recordings, and US President Donald Trump has expressed doubts they exist.
The Turkish president also did not mention the name of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely suspected of orchestrating Khashoggi’s killing.
Reuters reported on Monday, citing Turkish intelligence sources, that one of the crown prince’s top aides ran the operation to kill Khashoggi via Skype.
Saudi Arabia has sought to distance its leadership from Khashoggi’s killing. On Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News that the death was the result of a “rogue operation” unknown to the crown prince and the Saudi intelligence services.
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