Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded on Saturday that Saudi Arabia extradite suspects in the killing in Istanbul of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the kingdom was not cooperating.
At a summit of the Group of 20 in Buenos Aires, the Turkish leader took a firm tone on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia has announced the detention of 18 nationals and vowed to probe the killing of Khashoggi, a royal confidant turned critic who was killed and dismembered when he visited the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2 to handle paperwork for his planned wedding.
“It’s essential that these people are tried in Turkey in order to eliminate any question marks that the international community may have,” Erdogan told reporters.
“Whoever has ordered and implemented this violent crime should be found out at once. Unless the perpetrators are found out, the whole world and the Islamic community shall not be satisfied.”
Erdogan said the Saudis have refused to help Turkish prosecutors who sought information including the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body and the identities of accomplices said to have supported the visiting Saudi hit squad.
The Turkish leader, who has been vying for influence in the region with Saudi Arabia, said he did “not wish to cause any damage” to the royal family.
But he criticised Prince Mohammed, saying that during the summit the 33-year-old heir apparent gave an “unbelievable explanation” on Khashoggi’s killing that denied any Saudi official role.
Erdogan said that only one G20 leader – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – raised the writer’s death in their group meeting.
The crown prince on Friday was seen buoyantly greeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he appeared to have a chilly rapport with Erdogan as they assembled for a group photo.
MBS communicated with adviser during killing: WSJ
Earlier on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Prince Mohammed sent 11 messages to his closest adviser, who reportedly oversaw the operatives who killed Khashoggi.
The Journal said on Saturday it had reviewed excerpts of an intelligence file that was classified as “highly confidential”, which cites electronic intercepts and other covert information between Prince Mohammed and his aide, Saud al-Qahtani.
However, the content of the messages between the two parties is unknown.
“To be clear, we lack direct reports that the crown prince issued the order of murder,” the assessment notes, according to the Journal.
The assessment reports that Qahtani, who supervised the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul.
“We assess it is highly unlikely this team of operators … carried out the operation without Mohammed bin Salman‘s authorisation,” it says.
The CIA has not committed on the report, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that he has seen all the intelligence possessed by the US on the killing of Khashoggi there is no direct evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the incident.