Turkey Charges 20 in Khashoggi Killing

Elias Hubbard
March 25, 2020

The Istanbul prosecutor's office said it had prepared an indictment against 20 suspects over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including the former deputy head of Saudi Arabia's general intelligence and a former royal adviser.

Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The killing shone a light on the extraordinary crackdown on dissent carried out by Saudi authorities under Mohammed's leadership and soured relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The Istanbul prosecutor's office said its indictment includes accusing Saudi Arabia's former deputy intelligence chief and a royal court adviser of instigating murder.

His remains have not been found.

Khashoggi was murdered on October 2, 2018, in what Riyadh called a "rogue" operation by Saudi agents, plunging the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnishing the reputation of the crown prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Among those listed are Maher Abdulaziz M Mutreb, a former diplomat and intelligence officer who has repeatedly been pictured with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, the head of Forensic Evidence at the Saudi General Security Department, and Fahad al-Balawi, a member of the Saudi royal guard.

But a Saudi prosecutor said there was no evidence connecting Qahtani to the killing and the court dismissed charges against Asiri.

Turkey is a key backer of Qatar, especially after a Riyadh-led economic blockade began against the Gulf state in 2017, and is accused of supporting groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.

On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights investigator who led an global probe into the murder welcomed the indictment, saying it was needed as a "counter balance to the travesty of justice at the hands of Saudi Arabia". President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government first publicized details of the Saudi plot and has continued to accuse the Saudi leadership of shielding senior officials from blame.

"This happened in my country, how am I not going to follow up on that? This is our responsibility", Erdogan told Fox News a year ago.

Eighteen others were accused of carrying out the killing of Khashoggi, who was a USA resident at the time of his murder and writing for The Washington Post.

They face life in jail if convicted. Western officials said many of those accused defended themselves by saying they were carrying out Assiri's orders, describing him as the operation's ringleader.

In December, five unnamed people were sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, while three others were slapped with prison terms totaling 24 years over the killing.

The two men "gave the other suspects the necessary instructions to fulfill the action of killing" Khashoggi, the statement said.

The prosecutor have already issued arrest warrants for the suspects, who are not in Turkey.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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