ISTANBUL – A spokesman for the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan swore on Saturday that Turkey would "uncover what happened" Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hours after Saudi authorities said the Washington Post columnist was killed earlier this month in a fistfight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The Saudi statement – that a dispute in the consulate led to a deadly brawl – contradicts the conclusions of Turkish investigators, who believe that Khashoggi was purposely killed by a group of Saudi agents sent to Istanbul.
"We are not blaming anyone, but we do not agree that this will be hushed up," said Omar Celik, spokesman for the ruling party, according to the semi-official news agency Anadolu.
Turkey's reaction to Saudi Arabian approval is closely monitored because of the conflicting stories, and it is said that Turkish authorities have evidence, including tapes, that could accurately show how Khashoggi was killed. Erdogan's government has so far refused to publicize this evidence, possibly to protect Turkish surveillance methods, but also analysts, to maintain some leverage against the Saudis and the Trump government, which has sought to protect its Saudi allies.
Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia, disappeared on the afternoon of October 2, after visiting the Saudi consulate to obtain documents that would enable him to remarry. For weeks, Saudi Arabia had denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, insisting that he had left the consulate unhurt. The denials became harder to come by as the Turkish authorities revealed investigative threats to the local and international news media about the case.
Saudi's story changed on early Saturday when the government first confirmed that Khashoggi had written columns for the post office critical of the Saudi leadership that was dead. The Saudi authorities said they had fired five top officials and 18 others Saudi nationals arrested as a result of the investigation. Two of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's closest advisers were among those who were fired.
Turkish investigators are still searching for Khashoggi's body, which they believe has been cut to pieces after being killed. Saturday's Saudi statements did not address what happened to the body.