- A Turkish politician claimed on Monday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s body was dumped in a well on the grounds of the the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
- It wasn’t clear where Doğu Perinçek got that information, and the Turkish president did not address it in a speech on Tuesday.
- Turkish state media reported on Wednesday that Turkish police were given permission to search the well.
- Saudi officials initially refused to allow the search, state media said.
Turkish police have been given permission to search a well in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where rumours have claimed Jamal Khashoggi’s body was hidden, Turkish state-run TV reported on Wednesday.
The search comes as part of Turkey’s investigation into Khashoggi’s whereabouts, Turkey’s NTV channel reported, as cited by Reuters.
The reported search of the comes two days after Doğu Perinçek, the chairman of Turkey’s left-wing nationalist Patriotic Party, claimed that parts of Khashoggi’s body had been found in a well in the the consulate.
It was unclear where Perinçek got that information, or whether he was privy to Turkey’s intelligence, which has been the source of most of the details of what happened (much of which is unconfirmed).
Earlier on Wednesday Saudi officials tried to block Turkey from searching the well, the state-run Turkish newspaper Anadolu Agency reported around 2 p.m. local time, citing unnamed security sources.
NTV’s report that the Saudis had allowed the search came around an hour later.
Turkish police have searched the Saudi consulate and consul-general’s home before. It’s not clear whether they were given access to the well during earlier searches.
Perinçek on Monday said he expected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the claim in a speech on Tuesday, but that did not come to pass.
Erdogan appeared to ignore those rumours in his speech. He instead settled for alluding to Saudi claims, made anonymously to Reuters and the Associated Press, that Khashoggi’s body was rolled up in a fabric and handed over to a local Turkish collaborator for disposal.
He said: “There is a claim that the body of Khashoggi has been given to a local person. I am asking: Who is that local person?”
Although Khashoggi’s killing took place in Istanbul, Turkish officials have had to adhere to Saudi rules because the consulate is diplomatic Saudi property.
Turkish authorities weren’t allowed to search the Saudi consulate until two weeks after Khashoggi’s October 2 disappearance. Footage caught cleaning crews moving boxes of cleaning supplies into the building before Turkey was allowed to send in its investigator.
Erdogan lamented the delay in his Tuesday speech, saying: “Because of diplomatic immunity, we couldn’t go into the building initially. This has become a matter for discussion. What kind of steps can a host country take in a similar situation in the future?”
Turkey has challenged the Saudi narrative on Khashoggi’s death at every turn, and experts say it is likely because it is trying to extract some kind of concession from the kingdom.
Lisel Hintz, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, added that Turkey’s state-run newspapers that have been covering the crisis tend to print whatever the government wants them to.
Saudi Arabia admitted last Friday – 17 days after Khashoggi’s disappearance – that the journalist died in its Istanbul consulate, but claimed it was due to a physical altercation gone wrong during a “rogue operation.”
Turkey’s president contradicted that claim on Tuesday, saying instead that Khashoggi’s death was the result of a preplanned murder.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the incident a “cover-up”, adding that it is “one of the worst in the history of cover-ups.”
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