Khashoggi murder planned 12 days in advance, Turkish officials say

Turkey’s foreign minister says US president’s remarks have shown he will place Washington’s interests ahead of justice.

Jamal Khashoggi case: All the latest updates

Saudi Arabia has admitted Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Khashoggi – a Saudi writer, United States resident and The Washington Post columnist – had entered the building on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry.

After weeks of repeated denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance, the kingdom eventually acknowledged that its officials were behind the gruesome murder. The whereabouts of his body are still unknown.

Khashoggi murder planned 12 days in advance, Turkish officials say

Turkish investigators analysing phone calls and the movement of the suspects in Khashoggi’s murder have told Al Jazeera that the operation to kill the journalist was planned 12 days in advance.

Investigators sifting through 19 phone calls made by Maher Mutreb, thought to be the lead negotiator inside the consulate, to Saudi Arabia have found that four of them were made to Saud al-Qahtani and that there is a third voice on the calls.

Al-Qahtani was believed to be the right-hand man of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before being removed as a royal court adviser following the uproar over the murder.

“Today we learned from the officials that when Mutreb and al-Qahtani were talking on the phone, there was a third voice coming from the background of al-Qahtani’s phone … Al-Qahtani was transferring the information that he got from Mutreb to that third person,” Al Jazeera’s reporter said.

“According to Turkish officials, they strongly believe that this third voice could belong to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman but the technical analysis hasn’t concluded that yet because Mutreb was doing all these calls from his Saudi mobile phone and technically Turkey needs support to analyse it properly, ” she said.

It has also come to light that along with the Saudi consul-general, three other Saudi nationals employed in the consulate are considered as prime suspects in the investigation into Khashoggi’s killing.

Turkish officials say those employees fled Turkey within three days of the consul-general also leaving the country shortly after Khashoggi’s murder.

One of the employees, who is thought to be linked to the Saudi intelligence agency travelled to Riyadh 72 hours before Khashoggi’s arrival and returned to the consulate in Istanbul just before Khashoggi.

Cavusoglu: Trump shows he will turn blind eye to Khashoggi murder

US President Donald Trump’s latest comments about the killing of Khashoggi show that he will “turn a blind eye” to the issue regardless of what investigators uncover, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.

Trump has vowed to retain Saudi Arabia as a “steadfast partner” despite saying that the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to murder the journalist.

Criticising Trump for prioritising commercial relations than justice, Cavusoglu said that human life should take precedence.

“This statement that Trump made also means: ‘No matter what happens, I will turn a blind eye.’ This is not a correct approach. Not everything is money,” Cavusoglu told broadcaster CNN Turk on Friday.

The foreign minister also commented on recent moves by European partners in relation to the case.

On Monday, Germany said it would bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder.

In October, Germany called for EU countries to follow its lead and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, prompting a dismissive response from France, the kingdom’s second-biggest customer after India.

But Denmark on Thursday followed suit, freezing all sales of weapons and military equipment to Riyadh.
Cavusoglu said “artificial measures” would not help solve the crisis.

“They (Europe) say they don’t want to upset ties with Saudi Arabia. We do not want to upset our relations either,” he said, but added Ankara would do anything to shed light on the murder.

Trump: CIA did not conclude MBS ordered murder

President Trump said that the CIA did not conclude that Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, ordered the murder of Khashoggi.

US intelligence officials have reportedly said that the operation would have needed the approval at the highest levels, but the Saudis have strongly denied allegations that MBS was involved.

When asked about the CIA’s findings, Trump said that the intelligence agency “didn’t conclude”.

Citing vehement denials by MBS and King Salman, Trump said that “maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place”.

“I hate the crime, I hate the cover-up. I will tell you this: The crown prince hates it more than I do, and they have vehemently denied it,” he said.

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