An adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he believed prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for six days, was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
Yasin Aktay, who advises Erdogan in his ruling AK Party, also told Reuters that Turkish authorities believed a group of 15 Saudi nationals were “most certainly involved” in the matter, and added that statements by Saudi officials on the absence of camera records were not sincere.
Late on Saturday, Turkish sources told Reuters that Turkish authorities believed Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate last week, in what they described as the deliberate targeting of a prominent critic of the Gulf kingdom’s rulers.
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one Turkish official told Reuters.
The sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out. Saudi Arabia’s consul-general told Reuters on Saturday his country was helping search for Khashoggi, and dismissed talk of his possible abduction.
Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Washington for the past year fearing retribution for his critical views on Saudi policies, entered the consulate on Tuesday to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage, according to his fiancee, who waited outside. He has not been heard of since.
Two days before entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Jamal Khashoggi appeared at Middle East Monitor’s conference on the legacy of the Oslo Accords in London.
No Camera Footage
Saudi Arabia’s consul-general Mohammad al-Otaibi opened up his mission on Saturday in an effort to show that prominent Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished four days ago, was not on the premises and said that talk of his kidnapping was baseless.
Reuters journalists toured the six-storey consulate in northern Istanbul which Khashoggi entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. His fiancee, who had waited outside, said he never came out.
He said the consulate was equipped with cameras but they did not record footage, so no images could be retrieved of Khashoggi entering or leaving the consulate, which is ringed by police barriers and has high security fences topped with barbed wire.
However, Yasin Aktay, said to Reuters that he did not find claims by the Saudi officials about the lack of camera footage sincere. He told broadcaster CNN Turk that Khashoggi had not left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which he had entered on Tuesday to obtain documents for a forthcoming marriage, in “normal ways”. The case would not go unsolved, Aktay said.