Missing journalist case: Turkey waiting for permission to search Saudi consul's house
Iran Press TV
Wed Oct 17, 2018 09:46AM
Turkey says it is waiting for an agreement to enter and search the Saudi consul's residence in Istanbul as it continues to investigate the case of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after walking into the kingdom's mission there.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu made the remarks to Turkey's state-owned Anadolu news agency on Wednesday, a day after Turkish and Saudi investigators searched the consulate for nine hours.
A search of the consul's residence was canceled on Tuesday "because Saudi officials were not able to participate," Reuters reported, citing Turkish police as saying.
Turkish sources unveiled that Saudi Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi had left Istanbul for Riyadh earlier that day.
Khashoggi, a US resident, The Washington Post columnist, and a leading critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, did not exit the consulate after entering the facility on October 2 to obtain documentation for an upcoming marriage.
Turkey says it is in possession of evidence which shows he was murdered inside the Saudi diplomatic mission.
Police do not know yet whether the attempt to dispose of the body took place inside the consulate or in the consul's residence, London-headquartered website Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reported.
Details of audio recording revealed
Meanwhile, Turkey's National Intelligence Organization is in possession of an 11-minute audio recording of "the torture and murder" of Khashoggi inside the consulate, MEMO said, quoting a Tuesday report by Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak.
Citing Turkish law enforcement sources, Al Jazeera, also reported that Saudi intelligence elements had "verbally abused and used profanity to address Khashoggi, in addition to torturing him during the first four minutes after he entered the Saudi consulate."
"Afterwards, the journalist was heard screaming and mentioning being attacked with needles. Then, his voice faded away," according to the Doha-based network.
Turkish officials have reportedly informed their American counterparts that they had audio and video recordings pointing to Khashoggi's death inside the consulate, according to The Washington Post.
'Killing took 7 minutes, no interrogation'
Middle East Eye news portal has also published the "first details" of an audio recording obtained by Turkish investigators. It quoted a Turkish source, who had listened to the entire recording, as saying that it took seven minutes for Khashoggi to die.
Khashoggi was dragged from the Consul General's office onto the table of the consul's study room, the source said.
Horrendous screams were then heard by a witness downstairs, it said, adding, "The consul himself was taken out of the room. There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him."
'Listening to music during dismemberment'
The report said Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who has been identified as the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department, was one of a 15-member squad, which had arrived in Turkey earlier that day on a private jet.
Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi's body up on a table, while he was still alive, the Turkish source said.
Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music as he dismembered Khashoggi's body. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.
"When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too," Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.
Pompeo in Ankara after Riyadh
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was earlier sent to Riyadh to address the hugely controversial affair with Saudi royals, arrived in Ankara on Wednesday.
He met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for related discussions.
US President Donald Trump and Pompeo have so far maintained that King Salman and Saudi officials have denied knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.
Awestruck, world continues to react
An ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Europe might need to revisit its relations with Saudi Arabia, depending on the outcome of an investigation into the journalist's disappearance.
"We have a very ambivalent picture of Saudi Arabia, especially with what has happened in the Khashoggi case in recent days, and what emerges in the coming days will complete that picture. Europe may need to correct its policies toward Saudi Arabia," Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel's conservatives told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
Another senior German official, meanwhile, warned that Trump's attitude towards the matter carried much importance now.
"The decisive factor now is the behavior of the US president, who basically told the crown prince, we are giving you free rein as long as you buy enough weapons and other things from us," Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the German parliamentary foreign affairs committee and an ally of Merkel, told broadcaster ARD.
Separately, the International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde postponed a planned trip to the Middle East with a stop in Saudi Arabia for an investment conference.
The case has prompted an exodus from the conference slated to be held in Riyadh on October 23, as pressure mounts on the kingdom to account for the journalist's fate.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations also called on Tuesday for a "transparent" probe into the disappearance, saying they were "very troubled" by the case.
'Khashoggi case could end bin Salman's rule'
Speaking to PressTV, former US diplomat in Saudi Arabia, Michael Springmann said, Khashoggi "is not the first person that the Saudis have taken care of."
"You are talking about a country that doesn't like dissidents, that punishes dissidents. There are no public demonstrations there; there is controlled press, trade unions are illegal and if you criticize the royal family, if you are lucky, you go to jail," he added. "I think that the American government has to put its foot down on the Saudi neck and say 'no more weapons, get out of Yemen, end that aggression.'"
"What will come in the future of this, I don't know," said the analyst, adding that suggestions have been made that "they will bring back Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince and former interior minister to replace Mohammed bin Salman or maybe bring back the American Ambassador to Washington Khalid bin Salman," bin Salman's younger brother.
Secretary-General of London-based Next Century Foundation think tank, William Morris, however, said, "Bin Salman... is staying. He is not going anywhere. Mohammed bin Salman has a strong position. He will retain that strong position. He is a friend of Donald Trump. They will retain their friendship. There will be a little of posturing in the aftermath of this grave era. But he is not going away."
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