Speaking in parliament, the Turkish President has said the murder was premeditated and that Saudi Arabia needs to answer questions on who ordered the hit.
Erdoğan confirmed that 18 people have been arrested in Saudi Arabia. He went on to demand the kingdom provide the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body.
He also wants the suspects to be tried for Khashoggi’s murder in Istanbul.
His comments came as a high-profile investment conference, the Future Investment Initiative (FII), kicked off in Saudi Arabia. The event had been supposed to usher in a new era of openness to business in the kingdom but many executives and media outlets pulled out in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
— Slate (@Slate) October 23, 2018
Saudi Arabia said a fight at the consulate ended in Khashoggi’s death
Erdoğan said that 15 Saudi nationals flew into Turkey before the murder. One of the men was captured on camera leaving the consulate wearing Khashoggi’s clothes and a fake beard.
He also detailed how some of the men travelled to Belgrad forest, apparently to scout locations to hide a body.
They also removed hard drives from the consulate’s surveillance cameras before the arrival of Khashoggi, who was visiting the consulate to procure documents for his wedding.
After initially maintaining that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia finally conceded he had died but said it was the result of “a fight” that broke out, not a planned murder.
This version of events has not been accepted by the international community, with a former Head of MI6 slamming the rogue actors theory as “pure fiction”.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured Donald Trump the kingdom was not involved but after initially seeming to believe this, Trump has now said he is not satisfied with this explanation. The US has dispatched CIA Director Gina Haspel to Turkey to investigate the murder.
Breaking News: After weeks of carefully orchestrated leaks, Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid out what he said was a Saudi plot to kill the journalist Jamal Khashoggi https://t.co/MOzI2wrF6p
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 23, 2018
Erdoğan on Khashoggi’s death: “the murder was planned”
Erdoğan’s address did not mention Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by name but he called for the “highest ranked” of those involved to face justice.
Some reports suggested Erdoğan would reveal that Turkey had acquired a recording of Khashoggi’s murder but he did not mention this.
“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 told parliament.
“From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account.”
In the UK, a Downing Street spokesperson said Erdoğan’s statement showed “there are many questions which only the Saudis have the answers to.”
Writing for Australia’s ABC News, Middle East Correspondent Adam Harvey said Erdoğan had “engineered a campaign” on the release of news about Khashoggi to damage a regional rival and draw attention away from his own crackdowns on the judiciary and media dissidents.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was all smiles at Future Investment Initiative summit https://t.co/LAqjPJzXbF
— Bloomberg (@business) October 23, 2018
Meanwhile, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a brief appearance at the FII in Riyadh, smiling and taking selfies with delegates.
Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih did not stick to the ‘business as usual’ script, however, acknowledging the nation is “going through a crisis”.
On the murder of Khashoggi, he said that “nobody in the kingdom can justify it” and that whoever killed him must be brought to justice “no matter who they may be”.