Turkey let Saudi officials clear evidence on Khashoggi’s murder - main opposition

The deputy chair of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Thursday accused the Turkish government of ineffectively investigating the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and turning a blind eye to the kingdom’s officials clearing evidence on crime scene.

Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was killed by a 15-man Saudi squad sent from the kingdom while Saudi authorities say the men acted without authority. The journalist’s body has not been found.

UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard on Wednesday shared her report into the murder, calling Khashoggi the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia. 

The UN report finds from the moment of the murder, Turkey could have entered the consular building, could have taken action as regards Consul General al-Otaibi, and could have searched the consular residence and vehicles, CHP Deputy Chair Ünal Çeviköz said in a written statement. 

In addition to that Turkey “also turned a blind eye on the Saudi Arabian Consular General al-Outaibi’s return to his country, did not search the consular residence although it did not enjoy immunity, and waited for the limited permission that would be provided by Saudi Arabia two weeks after the killing,” the politician said. “The AKP government simply looked on as Saudi officials cleaned up the scene of crime during this time.”

Following the murder, the Turkish government said it had audio and video recordings that detailed Khashoggi’s killing. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in November that Turkey shared an audio recording with U.S. officials. 

“Furthermore, it is remarkable that the UN rapporteur states that her review of audio recordings was limited as the Turkish authorities did not provide the opportunity for a detailed review of audio recordings by the UN delegation,” Çeviköz said. 

According to Çeviköz, Callamard’s report said Erdoğan’s public statements impacted the independence of the investigation and that Turkey feared retaliation by Saudi Arabia. 

Moreover, the UN report argues that the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey and restrictions on freedom of expression weakened Turkey’s accountability.

“Failing to fulfil its responsibilities on this issue up until now, the AKP government must now start taking the necessary steps by first officially requesting the United Nations Secretary General to investigate the event,” Çeviköz said.