Top Saudi diplomat who served in Turkey during Khashoggi murder promoted

Waleed A. Elkhereiji, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey during the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was appointed as the kingdom’s deputy foreign minister on Wednesday, Daily Sabah reported.

Khashoggi, a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. His body has never been found.

Elkhereiji denied having any prior knowledge of the Khashoggi murder.

A Turkish trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials accused of killing the journalist Khashoggi opened in Istanbul on July 3. 

Khashoggi, 59, was once a member of the Saudi elite but became increasingly critical of the crown prince, and moved to Washington D.C. He worked as a columnist for the Washington Post.

He visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 to collect paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz, but never emerged from the building.

According to the Turkish indictment, based on analysis of phone and computer records and witness statements, investigators concluded that Khashoggi was strangled to death. Turkish investigators have also alleged that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered with a bone saw and then dissolved in acid on the consulate premises.

Elkhereiji worked as Saudi Arabia’s Agriculture Minister from Dec. 8, 2014 to Jan. 29, 2015 and on Feb. 14, 2015, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz appointed him a member of his Shura, a formal advisory body. On 17 April, 2017 he was appointed Saudi ambassador to Ankara.