Turkey Demands Extradition Of 18 Saudis In Khashoggi Case

ISTANBUL —  Turkish prosecutors have pre­pared an extradition request for 18 suspects from Saudi Arabia in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, authorities said on Friday, after President Tayyip Erdogan urged Riyadh to disclose who ordered the murder.

Erdogan has in recent days stepped up pressure on Saudi Arabia to come clean in the case, and Western governments have also voiced increasing scepticism, pitching the world’s top oil exporter and a pivotal Middle East ally into a worsening crisis.

Erdogan said Turkey had more informa­tion than it had shared so far about the killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi national and Washing­ton Post columnist who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct.2.

Khashoggi, who lived in the United States, was a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Thurs­day said the killing of Khashoggi was premedi­tated, contradicting a previous official state­ment that it happened accidentally during a tussle in the consulate. Riyadh’s numerous shifting accounts of the killing have under­mined Prince Mohammed’s stance in the West.

Turkish prosecutors seeking the extradi­tion accuse the 18 of “murder by premedita­tion, monstrous intent or by torture”. Riyadh previously arrested the 18 as part of its inves­tigation into the case. Those include a 15-man security team that Turkey says flew in hours before the killing and carried it out.

“Who gave this order?” Erdogan said in a speech to members of his AK Party in Ankara. “Who gave the order for 15 people to come to Turkey?” he said.

Saudi officials initially denied having any­thing to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance af­ter he entered the consulate, which he had visit­ed to obtain paperwork for a planned marriage.

“The reasoning behind the extradition re­quest is that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey by Saudi nationals who travelled to Turkey for this specific purpose,” a senior Turkish official said.

“It is clear that the judicial system in Tur­key is better equipped to genuinely serve the cause of justice in this case.”

Saudi Arabia has also sacked five senior gov­ernment officials as part of the investigation.

Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cen­giz, said she did not accept an invitation from US President Donald Trump, the kingdom’s staunchest Western champion, to visit the White House after Khashoggi’s murder be­cause she thought it was aimed at influencing public opinion in his own favour.

In her first television interview since the killing, Cengiz recounted the events leading up to their visit to the consulate on Oct. 2 where Khashoggi handed her his two mobile phones and went inside while she waited outside for him to emerge.

“Trump invited me to the United States but I perceived it as a statement to win public favour,” Cengiz told broadcaster Haberturk, pausing at times during an interview and more than once breaking down in tears.

Trump and Prince Mohammed have culti­vated warm ties though the US president said earlier this week that the crown prince, as the kingdom’s de facto ruler, bore ultimate respon­sibility for the operation against Khashoggi. Trump also said Riyadh had staged the “worst cover-up ever” over the killing.

Cengiz said Khashoggi was concerned ten­sions would arise when he visited the consul­ate for the first time on Sept. 28, but he was treated well at that visit, which appeared to reassure him, she said.

“He thought Turkey is a safe country and if he would be held or interrogated, this issue would be swiftly solved,” she said.

How Western allies deal with Riyadh will hinge on the extent to which they believe respon­sibility for Khashoggi’s death lies directly with Prince Mohammed and the Saudi authorities.

Prince Mohammed, who casts himself as a reformer, has said the killers will be brought to justice.

Erdogan said he had spoken with Prince Mohammed. “I also told the crown prince. I said, ‘You know how to make people talk. Whatever happened between these 18 people, this dodgy business is among them. If you are determined to lift suspicion, then the key point of our cooperation is these 18 people.'”

Turkish officials suspect Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, 59, inside the consulate and dismembered him. Turkish sources say au­thorities have an audio recording document­ing the murder.

US CIA Director Gina Haspel heard the au­dio during a visit to Turkey this week, sources told Reuters and has briefed Trump about Tur­key’s findings and her discussions.

Saudi state television quoted the Saudi public prosecutor on Thursday as saying Ri­yadh was interrogating suspects on the basis of information given by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force.

Many Saudis have been shocked by Ri­yadh’s admission after two weeks of denials and condemnation of foreign news reports.

Khashoggi fiancee declined Trump invite fearing public opinion ploy

The fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Friday said she did not accept an invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit the White House because she thought it was aimed at influencing public opinion in his own favour.

In her first television interview since the killing, Hatice Cengiz recounted the events leading up to their visit to the Sau­di consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 where Khashoggi handed her his two mobile phones and went inside while she waited outside for him to emerge.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Moham­med bin Salman, disappeared after entering the consulate to obtain paperwork necessary for his upcoming marriage to Cengiz, a Turk­ish national. After weeks of denying knowl­edge of whereabouts, and changing its story a number of times, Riyadh has said his killing was premeditated.

“Trump invited me to the United States but I perceived it as a statement to win pub­lic favour,” Cengiz told broadcaster Haber­turk, pausing at times during an interview and more than once breaking down in tears.

Trump and Prince Mohammed have cultivated warm ties though the US presi­dent said earlier this week that the crown prince, as the kingdom’s de facto ruler, bore ultimate responsibility for the operation against Khashoggi. Trump also said Riyadh had staged the “worst cover-up ever” over the killing.

Cengiz said Khashoggi was concerned tensions would arise when he visited the consulate for the first time on Sept. 28, but he was treated well at that visit, which ap­peared to reassure him, she said.

“I know he had questions in mind about whether something untoward could actually happen at the consulate,” she told Haberturk.

He later assumed he would not ulti­mately be arrested or harmed in Turkey, she said.

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