Turkey: Saudi prosecutor leaves without answering key questions on Khashoggi

Saudi public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb leaves from Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

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Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb has left Turkey after refusing to answer key questions asked by his Turkish counterparts as part of an investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to daily Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi.

Mojeb arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 28 night and held talks on Oct. 29 with Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, days after he contradicted weeks of Saudi statements by saying that Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated.

Saud Al – Mojeb

He held the second round of talks with the Turkish prosecutor, İrfan Fidan, at the courthouse on Oct. 30 before inspecting the Saudi consulate in the Levent neighborhood.

Demirören News Agency reported that Mojeb left Turkey after he visited the Istanbul office of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) early Oct. 31.

Citing unidentified government sources, Selvi wrote on Oct. 31 Turkish authorities shared with Mojeb some visual evidence in the case but felt “uncomfortable” when the Saudi prosecutor insisted to get a virtual copy of Khashoggi’s phone.

According to Selvi, Turkish officials were in “a deep distrust” toward Mojeb as he repeatedly refused to answer questions about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body and the identity of the killers’ “local collaborator” that he had publicly pointed without elaborating.

“Why did the Saudi prosecutor hide the knowledge about the body’s location from his Turkish counterparts? Because he may have visited Turkey not to solve the murder case but to save the crown prince,” Selvi concluded.

Similarly, a senior Turkish official told AFP on Oct. 31 that Saudi Arabian officials appeared unwilling to “genuinely cooperate” with Turkey.

“The Saudi officials seemed primarily interested in finding out what evidence the Turkish authorities had against the perpetrators,” the official told the agency on the condition of anonymity. “We did not get the impression that they were keen on genuinely cooperating with the investigation.”

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed inside the consulate after he went there to get documents for his forthcoming marriage on Oct. 2.

After a weeks-long denial, Saudi Arabia admitted on Oct. 25 that the journalist fell victim to a premeditated killing in the building while arresting 18 people, although the whereabouts of his body remained unclear.

Washington Post awaits answers

The Washington Post said Oct. 30 it was still waiting for answers on the killing of its contributor and urged the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions on those responsible for the murder.

In an opinion piece, the Post’s editorial board said what happened to Khashoggi’s body remained “undisclosed”.

The board accused the Saudi government and its “de facto accomplices” in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump of remaining silent instead of clarifying the questions about the murder.

It said those behind the killing were hoping that “demands for accountability will fade away now that the story has been pushed from the front pages. That should not be allowed to happen”.

“What the Turks still don’t know has been publicly voiced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Where is Mr. Khashoggi’s body? And who ordered and oversaw this grisly operation?” it said.

“The Saudis know the answers to both those questions, and Mr. Trump might, too. Experts on Saudi Arabia are virtually unanimous in saying that such an audacious mission must have been known about, and most likely was ordered, by the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” it said.

The board said that Congress should summon CIA Director Gina Haspel, who was in Turkey last week and briefed Trump, and other senior U.S. officials and determine what they know about the killing.

“Then it should take decisive action to impose sanctions on those responsible –including, if the available evidence points to him, Mohammed bin Salman– and reshape U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia,” said the board.

Erdoğan said 18 people arrested in Saudi Arabia for the killing should be extradited to Turkey to face trial, while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom would try the suspects after an investigation is completed.
– Hurriyet Daily News