Turkey seeks arrest of Saudi officials over Khashoggi

Reuters, ANKARA

Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 1

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has filed warrants for the arrest of a top aide to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and the deputy head of its foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, two Turkish officials said yesterday.

The prosecutor’s office has concluded that there is “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri, both removed from their positions in October, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, the officials said.

The move comes a day after senior US senators said that they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was responsible for the killing, citing a CIA briefing.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet yesterday called for an international investigation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pushed to keep international attention on the murder — the order for which he says came from the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government — even as US President Donald Trump has said that Washington should not take action that would undermine its relationship with the kingdom.

“The prosecution’s move to issue arrest warrants for al-Asiri and al-Qahtani reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won’t take formal action against those individuals,” one of the Turkish officials said.

“The international community seems to doubt Saudi Arabia’s commitment to prosecute this heinous crime. By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi Arabian authorities could address those concerns,” the official said.

Erdogan has said that the order for Khashoggi’s killing probably did not come from Saudi Arabian King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on the crown prince.

Saudi Arabia has said the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the murder.