The Turkish president on Tuesday called the death of prominent Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi a "brutal murder." Erdogan was addressing his AK Party parliamentary group about the journalist's killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "premeditated," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.
Speaking in Ankara at a meeting of Turkey's governing AK Party at parliament, providing details over Turkey's investigation into the murder of Khashoggi.
"The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was premeditated," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey has strong evidence that the murder was planned.
TRT World's Iolo ap Dafydd reports.
Some of the key points addressed in Turkish President Erdogan's speech are:
- Details surrounding Khashoggi's disappearance
- Arrival of Saudi delegation in Turkey and the ongoing investigation
- Khashoggi as the victim of a brutal murder
- Significant steps taken by Saudi Arabia
- The need for an impartial investigation
Following is the president's speech about the murder:
The Turkish president began his speech by giving details of Jamal Khashoggi's initial visit to Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate on Friday, September 28, for marriage paperwork.
He added that, "It is understood the team that planned and carried out the murder was informed about Khashoggi’s visit."
The fact that some consular officials went to their home country in a hurry indicates that the preparation work and planning (on Khashoggi’s killing) was done there."
President Erdogan then gave details of the arrival of the 15-member Saudi team and their movements prior that included reconnaissance mission carried out in Istanbul's Belgrad Forest and the northwestern province of Yalova.
"First, the hard drive of the consulate’s CCTV system is removed. Khashoggi, who arrived in Istanbul from London in the early hours of the same day, goes to the consulate at 13:08 by foot. And after that time, nothing is heard of him."
Erdogan said Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz contacted Turkish authorities at 17:50 saying that her fiance might have been forcefully detained, or something might have happened to him.
"As a result, the Istanbul Police Department immediately launched an investigation into the journalist's disappearance. Upon inspection of CCTV footage, it became certain that Khashoggi had not left the consulate building."
The Turkish president said, "As our police and intelligence forces dug deep into the issue, our Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an official investigation. As the investigation advances, interesting facts have emerged."
President Erdogan then explained tactics employed to throw the investigations off track that included the Saudi consulate general hosting a Reuters journalist and an impersonator wearing Khashoggi's clothes exiting the building to make it appear the slain journalist had left the consulate on his own.
The Turkish president said that the Saudi's had opened up to cooperation after he discussed the matter with Saudi King Salman bin AbdulAziz in a phone call.
Giving details of the phone call, President Erdogan said, "We agreed to establish a joint investigation team and teams containing prosecutors and members of the police department entered the Saudi consulate and searched the premises on King Salman’s orders."
He also mentioned how the Saudi Consul General in Istanbul returned to his country just before another search of the consulate took place on October 18.
In his speech, Erdogan also said that the Saudi government on October 19 formally admitted to the killing of Khashoggi 17 days after his murder.
The Turkish president said that after the admission that Khashoggi as killed, it was announced that 18 people had been detained in Saudi Arabia over the incident.
President Erdogan said Turkey had displayed maximum restraint on the matter and chosen not to jump to any conclusion before investigations into the incident made any headway.
"As a country, Turkey led this process with the utmost due diligence, in line with international law and our legislative system."
He added that, "Several media organisations carried out smear campaigns targeting Turkey and to implicate our country (for Khashoggi’s killing) and to distract people from focusing on the actual targets."
"We know very well who is behind these smear campaigns (to target Turkey in the Khashoggi incident) and what their motivations are. These plots to destroy our country's reputation could not and will not stop us from uncovering the truth of this matter"
"The Vienna convention would not allow such a 'brutal' murder to happen," Erdogan also stated.
"Diplomatic immunity, which is a part of the Vienna Convention, will be debated", he remarked.
Erdogan added that all information, evidence that has been revealed till now showed that Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal murder.
The Turkish president added, "We will surely investigate this murder committed within our borders with all its dimensions and do whatever is necessary. Jamal Khashoggi is not just a Saudi citizen but also an internationally renowned journalist, which gives us an additional responsibility on an international level."
He further said, "Turkey is following up on this matter not just as a matter of its right to sovereignty, but also on behalf of the international community and the collective conscience of humanity."
Separately, Erdogan offered condolences to the family and relatives of Khashoggi.
During his address the Turkish president also raised a number of questions related to Khashoggi's killing including:
- Why did the 15 people, all connected to the event, meet in Istanbul on the day of the murder?
- Upon whose orders did these people arrive?
- Why was the consulate building opened for investigation days after (the incident) and not immediately?
- Why were there so many inconsistent statements made despite it being so obvious that it was a murder?
- Why is the body of a person who was admittedly murdered still absent?
- If the statement that the body was given to a local accomplice is true, then who is this local accomplice?
The Turkish president continued with his speech and said, “No one should think that this matter (of Khashoggi’s killing) will be closed before all of these questions are answered.”
He said some of the information that Turkish police and intelligence units are evaluating already points towards the event being a planned operation.
"As the assessment of the information is completed, they will be added into the prosecutor’s case. Pushing this event onto the shoulders of a couple of security and intelligence officers will satisfy neither us nor the international community," the Turkish president said.
He also expressed confidence in the sincerity of the Custodian of the Two Mosques, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
Turkish President Erdogan said that an investigation of such a critical matter should be led by a truly impartial and just committee and nobody linked to the murder should be a part of the investigation team.
He concluded his speech saying, "Considering that this was a political murder, accomplices in various different countries — if they do exist — have to be investigated."
Erdogan said he believed investigating accomplices in Khashoggi’s killing is required by international law, Islamic law and also by Saudi law.
"As Turkey, we will follow this matter until the very end, making sure that whatever international law and our legislation requires will get done."
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had gone missing since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said he was killed during a fight inside its Istanbul consulate.
His body has not been recovered, nor has Saudi Arabia explained its shifting narrative on what transpired.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.