Turkish, Saudi teams begin probe at consulate after Khashoggi’s disappearance

Turkish, Saudi teams begin probe at consulate after Khashoggi’s disappearance

ISTANBUL
Turkish, Saudi teams begin probe at consulate after Khashoggi’s disappearance

Saudi Arabia has opened its consulate in Istanbul to Turkey as part of an investigation into the disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The joint "inspection" of Turkish and Saudi officials started at 5.30 p.m. on Oct. 15.

It was earlier reported that Turkish police began probing a claim that Khashoggi’s body could be “evaporated” using acid inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul, local media reported Oct. 15.

Khashoggi, a journalist and regular columnist for the Washington Post, failed to emerge after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Trump says spoke to Saudi king, suspect of 'rogue killers'
Trump says spoke to Saudi king, suspect of rogue killers

Turkish police investigating the case had said in a statement on Oct. 6 that 15 Saudis, including several officials, had arrived in Istanbul on two planes and entered the consulate while Khashoggi was inside. The group included a leading forensic expert, as well as Saudi intelligence officers and Royal Guards, according to reports.

Turan Kışlakçı, head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association and a friend of Khashoggi, had claimed after the disappearance that the Saudis inside the consulate had already gotten rid of the journalist’s body after killing him.

Habertürk website’s columnist Sevilay Yılman wrote on Oct. 15 that Turkish security forces started to look into Kışlakçı’s claim. 

“Police and the MİT [Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency] are now probing this claim seriously. They are looking into whether the body of Khashoggi was dissolved using acid,” she said.

Separately, Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Oct. 15 ordered an internal probe into the case.

"The King has ordered the Public Prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the info from the joint team in Istanbul," a Saudi official, not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters.

Asked when the public prosecutor could make an announcement about the investigation, the official said: "He was instructed to work quickly."

Erdoğan, Saudi King discuss Khashoggi case over phone
Erdoğan, Saudi King discuss Khashoggi case over phone

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia warned it would retaliate against any sanctions imposed on the oil-rich kingdom over the disappearance of Khashoggi, as more Western companies distanced themselves from the Gulf State. 

United States President Donald Trump has threatened the kingdom with “severe punishment” if Khashoggi, who has been critical of the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside its Istanbul mission.  

But Riyadh vowed to hit back on Oct. 14 against any punitive measures as its stock market tumbled, with the fallout from the crisis threatening to imperil Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s much-hyped economic reform drive.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure,” an official said, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The official said Riyadh would “respond to any action with a bigger one,” pointing out that the oil superpower “plays an effective and vital role in the world economy.”

According to Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television, the kingdom has “over 30 measures” it could implement.

Following Riyadh’s assertion it would retaliate, Britain, France and Germany released a joint statement saying they were treating Khashoggi’s disappearance “with the utmost seriousness.”

“There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and—if relevant—to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account,” it said.

This message had been conveyed “directly to the Saudi authorities,” said the statement, signed by British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian and Germany’s Heiko Maas.

IN PHOTOS: Photos surface of Saudis allegedly sent to kill journalist Khashoggi
Photos surface of Saudis allegedly sent to kill journalist Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi, missing persons, Turkey