- A Turkish politician on Monday floated a wild rumour that journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s body was found in a well near the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to have shot the rumour down by saying that “no one knows” where the body is.
- He alluded to a Saudi intelligence claim that Khashoggi’s body was rolled up in a carpet and given to a local person in Turkey for disposal, and demanded more information on that.
- Turkish officials have continuously leaked intelligence and made bold public statements about Khashoggi’s killing.
- Authorities promised that Erdogan’s statement would reveal new facts about the killing, but the speech did little to advance the narrative or confirm previous gruesome rumours.
- Erdogan failed to address, for example, audio and video footage that Turkey claims to have of Khashoggi being killed by Saudi assassins.
Turkey’s president has publicly demanded the whereabouts of the body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shooting down a wild rumour that Khashoggi’s body was found in a well in on the grounds of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan told lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Tuesday that he still wanted to know where Khashoggi’s body is.
“Where is the body of Jamal Khashoggi?” Erdogan said. “No one knows until now.”
On Monday 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 garden of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
It was unclear where he got that information, or whether he was privy to Turkey’s intelligence. He said he expected Erdogan to say as much in his speech, but it ultimately did not come to pass.
Erdogan also alluded to Saudi claims, made anonymously to Reuters on Sunday, that Khashoggi’s body had been rolled up in a rug and given to a local person for disposal.
Erdogan said on Tuesday: “There is a claim that the body of Khashoggi has been given to a local person. I am asking: Who is that local person?
“No one is talking about this local person. Someone has said that it was a local person. You need to reveal the name of this local person.
“No one is allowed to think that this case will come to an end without answering any of these questions.”
What Erdogan left out
Erdogan in his speech forcefully accused Saudi agents of planning Khashoggi’s “savage” murder, but failed to address bold claims claimed by Turkish intelligence officers in US and pro-government Turkish media.
Turkish intelligence officers have for at least two weeks claimed that they had audio and video footage of Khashoggi being killed by Saudi assassins, but the country has yet to make them public or share it with their intelligence partners.
Multiple US and European intelligence officers said they never received it, and President Donald Trump has questioned the existence of these recordings.
“So far, we’ve heard about it, but nobody has seen it,” Trump said Saturday, adding that, to his knowledge, that included the FBI and the CIA.
Martin Chulov, who covers the Middle East for The Guardian,tweeted after Erdogan’s speech: “After haunting #SaudiArabia over a fortnight of potent leaks, #Erdogan opted out of a coup de grace, right when he had the world’s attention #JamalKhashoggi.”
Saudi Arabia admitted to Khashoggi’s death last Friday but claimed it was the result of a physical altercation gone wrong.
The kingdom has also attempted to distance its leadership – particularly that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – from the killing by attributing Khashoggi’s death to a rogue operation about which the crown prince and the country’s intelligence services knew nothing.
Turkish officials have continually leaked intelligence reports about Khashoggi’s killing to US and Turkish media outlets, as well as issued bold statements on the record implicating the Saudi leadership in the death.
Experts say this shows that Turkey is trying to extract some kind of concession from Saudi Arabia, which could come in the form of new contracts or an informal payment.
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