Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered his strongest denunciation yet of Saudi Arabia and what he says was their role in the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an address to his nation’s parliament Tuesday, Erdoğan called the killing a “premeditated murder” and refuted Saudi Arabia’s contention that Khashoggi died in a scuffle at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, the New York Times reported.
“It is clear that this savage murder did not happen at the drop of a dime but was a planned affair,” said Erdoğan, the paper reported. The Turkish strongman has spent the last two weeks leaking ever more gruesome details of the killing which has played a significant role in driving the story forward.
Last week, the Times reported that Turkish media was in possession of secretly-recorded audio from inside the consulate that showed Khashoggi was killed and then systemically dismembered by a 15-man team from Saudi Arabia flown into the country by private jet for the express purpose of dispatching him. So far, the audio has not been made public.
In his same address, Erdoğan also challenged the Saudis with a series of tough questions, crystalizing broad doubts which have been raised by both his country and foreign reporters.
“Why was the 15-man Saudi team in Istanbul on the day of the murder?” he said, the paper reported. “On whose orders? We are seeking answers. Why was the consulate not opened to investigators immediately? When the murder was so clear, why were there so many different statements given by Saudis?
After spending two weeks denying his death and insisting that Khashoggi walked out of the consulate, Saudi Arabia admitted last week that in fact the journalist was killed by a “rogue” team who then tried to cover up the murder.
“This was an operation that was a rogue operation,” said Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir during an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier. “This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it.”