Turkey’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 for planning the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it has been announced.
The prosecutor’s office has concluded 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 consulate in Istanbul, officials said.
The move comes a day after senior U.S. senators said they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing, citing a CIA briefing.
Turkish President 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 government—even as U.S. President Donald Trump has said Washington should not take action that would undermine its relationship with the kingdom.
“The prosecution’s move to issue arrest warrants for Asiri and 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 authorities could address those concerns,” the official said.
Erdogan has said the order for Khashoggi’s killing probably did not come from King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on Salman’s heir and de facto ruler Prince Mohammed.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations, the Saudis later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Trump and some of his fellow Republicans have argued that Washington should not take action that would risk its relationship with Riyadh, which is viewed as an important counterweight to Iran in the Middle East.