Riyadh acknowledges Jamal Khashoggi’s murder but blames ‘rogue killers’
For the Saudi Foreign Ministry, an unauthorised team is responsible for the journalist’s death. The latter was a serious mistake but the royal family is not involved. Tomorrow, Erdogan’s ultimatum expires. The Turkish president threatens to make public evidence about the murder. Saudi king Salman and Crown Prince Muhammed called the journalist’s family on the phone.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – After days of denial, Saudi Arabia confirmed the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who, according to the new account of events, died as a result of an altercation with some agents sent to Istanbul to question him.
The affair has cast a shadow over the Saudi government, controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), which now blames a "rogue operation”, a claim “suggested" by Donald Trump, who recently spoke of "rogue killers" or "criminals" who acted without the consent of Saudi authorities.
The Saudi versions of what happened on 2 October to Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership, have never fully convinced European leaders, Canada, the Turkish government where the disappearance occurred, nor even the United States.
The US president Donald Trump, while excluding a crisis in diplomatic and especially trade relations (billions of dollars in arms sales are at stake), has repeatedly asked for information and a credible answer to the mystery that surrounds Khashoggi’ fate.
His disappearance, which upset some whilst pleasing others, points to the Saudi royal family and MbS.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ultimatum comes to an end yesterday, has threatened to reveal what his government knows about the affair, including the alleged audio file recorded from the journalist’s Apple Watch, which should prove that he was tortured by a team sent from Saudi Arabia to execute him.
Turkish investigators have extended their search for the body to a wooded area near Istanbul and the city of Yalova. The investigation is focusing on videos showing two black vans moving away from the consulate, where the murder is supposed to have occurred, towards locations now under scrutiny.
The videos also confirm the presence at the diplomatic legation of Colonel Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a MbS loyalist. Since 2 October, his whereabouts are unknown.
Turkish state media have reported that another suspect, Meshal Saad M. Albostani, a lieutenant and a member of the Saudi royal guard, died in a "suspicious" car accident.
Meanwhile, Khashoggi's family, dissatisfied with the work of the Turkish investigation, has called for an independent and impartial international commission to inquire. The request was made by the journalist’s son, Abdullah, via Twitter.
King Salman and MbS called the journalist's other son, Salah, to express the condolences of the royal family and Saudi authorities.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency, Salah Jamal thanked the king and crown prince, and expressed his “sincere gratitude” to the prince for the phone call.