Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed to reveal the full truth over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a meeting with his party MPs on Tuesday.
“We are looking for justice here and this will be revealed in all its naked truth, not through some ordinary steps but in all its naked truth,” Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul.
The Turkish president’s announcement came days after Saudi Arabia admitted, after more than two weeks of denials, that the former Washington Post columnist had been killed on October 2 in its consulate in Istanbul following a “fistfight”.
Turkish officials have claimed they believe that 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on two flights on October 2 were connected to his death. Riyadh said it fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation.
Erdogan however voiced skepticism over the official Saudi version of the events. “Why did those 15 men come here? Why were 18 people arrested?” asked Erdogan.
The Turkish leader has so far refrained from making strong statements about the death of Khashoggi, often referring to a prosecutors’ investigation into the killing.
Analysts see this as an attempt to avoid provoking a full rupture in Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
Turkish media groups close to Erdogan’s government have reported about the existence of an audio clip that recorded the last gruesome moments of Khashoggi’s death. But the contents of the audio clip have not been officially released.
Turkey’s Anadolu agency said early on Monday that Erdogan and US President Donald Trump had spoken on the telephone and agreed that “all aspects” of the case needed to be cleared up.
France, Germany, Britain take unified stand
Erdogan’s promise to reveal the whole truth came as Britain, France and Germany on Sunday issued a joint statement asking Saudi Arabia to provide clarity on Khashoggi’s death.
“There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened on October 2nd — beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible,” said the three EU nations.
“We thus stress that more efforts are needed and expected towards establishing the truth in a comprehensive, transparent and credible manner,” they added.
“We will ultimately make our judgement based on the credibility of the further explanation we receive about what happened and our confidence that such a shameful event cannot and will not ever be repeated.” The joint statement followed individual statements issued Saturday by the governments of France, Germany and Britain demanding a thorough investigation and transparency in the Khashoggi case.
In a statement released Saturday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “Many questions remain unanswered. They require a thorough and diligent investigation to establish exactly who was responsible for the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi and to ensure that those who are guilty answer for the actions.”
Late Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed “the circumstances” around Khashoggi’s “tragic death” in a phone call, without offering further details.
Trump accuses Saudis of ‘lies’
Saudi Arabia has been facing a growing chorus of incredulity since Riyadh supplied its explanations of what happened on October 2 at its Istanbul consulate.
Trump, a close ally of the oil-rich Gulf kingdom, made his strongest comments to date on the case in an interview with the Washington Post published late Saturday.
“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” he said of the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh. “Their stories are all over the place.”
Pressure has been mounting on Trump to take a stronger stance against the oil-rich Gulf kingdom.
Several senior members of Trump’s Republican Party said they believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, was linked to the killing, and one called for a “collective” Western response if a link is proved.
But Trump stopped far short of calling for the prince to be replaced, emphasising as he has before how important the US-Saudi relationship is to Washington’s regional strategic goals.
He described the 33-year-old prince, widely known as MBS, as a “strong person; he has very good control.”
“He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check,” added Trump. “I mean that in a positive way.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)