Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed Saudi Arabia on Thursday to release images that prove Riyadh’s claim missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul alive, vowing Turkey would “not remain silent” in the mystery over his fate.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, vanished on October 2 after he went to the consulate to obtain official documents for his upcoming marriage.
Saudi Arabia has insisted the journalist left the building safely. But Turkish government sources said police believe Khashoggi was killed by an assassination team sent to Istanbul.
The Saudi consulate has said CCTV cameras were not working that day.
But in comments to Turkish reporters travelling on his presidential plane, Erdogan indicated that he did not find the Saudi explanations sufficient. “Is it possible there were no camera systems in a consulate, in an embassy? Is it possible that there was no Saudi camera system where this incident took place?” Erdogan said, according to Hurriyet daily.
“If a bird flew, or a fly or a mosquito appeared, the systems would capture this; they (Saudi Arabia) have the most cutting-edge systems,” he was quoted as saying.
“This is an incident which took place in our country. It’s not possible for us to stay silent regarding an incident like this,” Erdogan said. “It would not be right for me to make any comment at this moment. But we have concerns.”
Turkish police are looking into a team of 15 Saudis who were at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi arrived in Istanbul on October 2 on board two private planes. The 15 have been described by Turkish media as an “assassination team” who took the footage with them.
Khashoggi was a former government adviser who fled Saudi Arabia in September 2017 and lived in the United States fearing arrest back home. In his columns for the Washington Post and comments elsewhere, Khashoggi was critical of some policies of Mohammed bin Salman as well as Riyadh’s role in the war in Yemen.