ANKARA, Turkey — The Saudi officials who killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their Istanbul consulate must reveal the location of his body, Turkey’s president said Friday in remarks that were sharply critical of the kingdom’s handling of the case.
Turkey has other “information and evidence” about the killing by Saudi officials after Khashoggi entered the consulate on Oct. 2, and it will eventually reveal that information, Erdogan said without elaborating.
“There is no point in being too hasty,” he said in an indication that Turkey is prepared to maintain pressure on Saudi Arabia, even as the kingdom struggles for ways to end the crisis.
CIA director Gina Haspel was in Turkey earlier this week to review evidence, and she briefed U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Thursday.
What Trump called “one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups” was revealed to the world by Turkish leaks of information, including references to purported audio recordings of the killing, and security camera footage of the Saudi officials who were involved as they moved around Istanbul. Key mysteries remaining include whether the killing was carried out with the knowledge of the crown prince, who denies it, and the location of Khashoggi’s body.
The Turkish President Criticized Initial Saudi Statements
“It is clear that he has been killed but where is it? You have to show the body,” Erdogan said Friday during an address to Turkey’s ruling party leaders.
“He will leave the consulate and not take his fiancee with him? Such childish statements do not go hand in hand with statesmanship,” said Erdogan, again urging Saudi Arabia to turn over 18 suspects that the kingdom said it had arrested and would punish for the crime.
“If you cannot get them to speak … then hand them over to us and let us put them on trial,” he added.
Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s son, Salah, left Saudi Arabia after the kingdom revoked a travel ban, allowing him to travel to the United States.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Washington welcomes the decision to have Salah Khashoggi and his family leave Saudi Arabia. His U.S. destination was not immediately known but his late father lived in the Washington area.
Palladino said Thursday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had discussed Jamal Khashoggi’s son during his recent visit to Riyadh and “made it clear” to Saudi leaders that Washington wanted him free to leave the kingdom.
Shifting Explanations Indicate Saudi Arabia Is Scrambling for a Way Out
“We are pleased that he is now able to do so,” Palladino said. Saudi media had showed Khashoggi’s son meeting Tuesday with the crown prince, who reportedly expressed his condolences.
The shifting explanations indicate Saudi Arabia is scrambling for a way out of the crisis that has enveloped the world’s largest oil exporter and a major U.S. ally in the Middle East. But a solution seems a long way off, partly because of deepening skepticism in Turkey and elsewhere that the brazen crime could have been carried out without the involvement of Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s heir apparent.
At a conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, the crown prince said the killing was a “heinous crime that cannot be justified” and warned against any efforts to “manipulate” the crisis and drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are regional rivals but also diplomatic and business partners.
Khashoggi’s death has derailed the powerful prince’s campaign to project a modern image of the ultraconservative country, instead highlighting the brutal lengths to which some top officials in the government have gone to silence its critics. Khashoggi, who lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for nearly a year before his death, had written critically of Prince Mohammed’s crackdown on dissent.