A Turkish prosecutor says Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed by strangulation immediately after entering Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, before his body was “cut into pieces.”
The statement by chief Istanbul prosecutor Ifran Fidan comes as Turkey pressures Saudi Arabia to extradite the 18 people it detained in connection with Khashoggi’s killing.
Fidan also said that talks with Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb produced “no concrete result” despite sincere efforts to disclose the truth.
Fidan’s statement was the first public confirmation by a Turkish official the journalist was mutilated after entering the consulate, the result of a premeditated plan.
“In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim … was strangled to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia,” the statement said. “The victim’s body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation – again, in line with advance plans.”
A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK party said Wednesday Khashoggi’s murder could not have happened without orders from at least one “high-level” Saudi authority.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has requested Saudi officials identify an alleged local collaborator suspected of disposing of Khashoggi’s body.
Erdogan and other Turkish officials have repeatedly complained that Saudi Arabia has obstructed the investigation by refusing to reveal key pieces of evidence like the location of Khashoggi’s body.
His October 2 disappearance at the consulate has created an international firestorm that threatens the already complicated relations between Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.
Turkey has steadily ramped up pressure on Saudi Arabia to provide answers amid its shifting official explanations on Khashoggi’s fate. Weeks after the fact, Riyadh admitted the writer had been killed in the consulate by a team of 15 Saudi agents.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often criticized by Khashoggi in his Washington Post columns, had hailed the “unique” cooperation between the two countries only days before.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called Khashoggi’s disappearance and death “one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups,” but has also said the U.S. should not be too critical of the regime because of a pending multi-billion dollar arms deal with Riyadh. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revoked the visas of Saudi officials believed to have taken part in the killing.
Khashoggi had gone into the Saudi consulate in the Turkish capital on October 2 to obtain paperwork he needed for his planned marriage to Turkish national Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside the consulate. He was never seen again.