ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his chief prosecutor has asked his Saudi counterpart to reveal who ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The killing has unleashed a global firestorm that has plagued Ankara's already-strained relations with Riyadh, urging the Trump administration to defend its esteemed Middle East ally, whose leadership is suspected of sending a 15-man squad to carry out the killing allowed.
"Our prosecutor asked who sent the group who came here and said that this had to be checked," Erdogan told reporters as he left parliament in Ankara.
"We can not leave this problem unresolved," he said. "We have to solve it now."
Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, was last seen on October 2 in a grainy surveillance video when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documentation for his upcoming wedding. Turkish officials say he was detained, tortured and dismembered while his fiance waited outside.
His remains were not found.
Saud al-Mojeb, a Saudi public prosecutor, met with his Turkish counterpart for the second time on Tuesday before visiting the consulate where the killings took place, Turkish media reported. Riyadh portrayed the killing as a rogue plot, arrested 18 suspects and sentenced Khashoggi's death. But Western officials have speculated it was a reckless plan – flying the impact troops to Istanbul with private jets and recruiting an apparent body dozer to leave the consulate after the murder – that would not have been possible without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed Salman , de facto ruler of the kingdom.
Co-operation with Saudi Arabia and especially with Mohammed is at the heart of the foreign policy of the Trump government in the Middle East. Although this last crisis has been severely condemned by both parties in Congress, there is little evidence that this will fundamentally change the relationship between the two nations.
Speaking in Parliament, Erdogan appeared to be more muted on Tuesday in his criticism of Saudi Arabia than in previous weeks. He did not mention Khashoggi by name and referred to earlier topics of conversation without increasing the stakes.
"There's no need to cheat about it, or there's no reason to stop anyone from doing that," he said. "We have to overcome this with our mechanisms of justice and politics."
Khashoggi's family and friends are pushing for answers. "We want everyone involved to face justice from top to bottom," said Hatice Cengiz, his Turkish fiancé, on Monday in an emotional BBC interview.
Cengiz had been waiting in front of the Saudi Consulate on October 2nd. Alarm sounded when Khashoggi did not show up and refused to go until the early hours of the morning. "We did not say goodbye," she told the interviewer.
"At least he had someone he loved at the end of his life, maybe that's what came to mind in his last minutes."
Zeynep Karatas contributed to this report.
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