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Turkey will reveal ‘naked truth’ over Khashoggi death, says Erdogan

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.   | Photo Credit: AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed to reveal the “naked truth” over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying that he would make a new statement on the case next week.

“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,” Mr. Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul.

Saudi authorities conceded on Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom's Istanbul diplomatic compound.

Their admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive.

Turkish officials have claimed they believe that 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on two flights on October 2 — the day when Khashoggi entered the consulate — were connected to his death.

 

Riyadh said it fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation.

“Why did those 15 men come here? Why were 18 people arrested?” Mr. Erdogan asked in Istanbul.

He said he would make a full statement on the case when he would address his ruling party MPs in parliament on Tuesday.

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 of relations with Saudi Arabia.

‘Urgent need for clarification’ on Khashoggi death

Britain, France and Germany said Saudi Arabia must clarify how dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside its Istanbul consulate, and its account must “be backed by facts to be considered credible”.

“There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened on October 2 — beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible,” the three countries said in a joint statement.

“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.”

 

After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted Saturday that Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and prominent critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on October 2.

But it has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation that he died in a "brawl", as world powers demand answers and the whereabouts of his body.

“The threatening, attacking or killing of journalists, under any circumstances, is unacceptable and of utmost concern to our three nations,” added the European allies' statement.

“The quality and significance of the relationship we have with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also rests with the respect we have for the norms and values to which the Saudi authorities and us are jointly committed under international law,” they warned.

Trump accuses Saudis of ‘lies’

US President Donald Trump has accused Saudi Arabia of lying about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, his strongest comments to date on the affair as pressure builds on the administration to strike a tougher line.

In an interview with the Washington Post published late Saturday, Trump stepped back from his stance that Saudi Arabia's latest explanation for the death of the journalist inside their Istanbul consulate was credible, but said he remained confident in the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies," he said of the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.

Saudi officials originally said Khashoggi, who entered the diplomatic mission on October 2, had left unharmed, before announcing Friday he was killed inside the building in what they described as an altercation.

“Their stories are all over the place,” added Mr. Trump.

Saudi Arabia faced a growing chorus of incredulity Sunday, with world powers demanding answers. British and French officials denounced the latest Saudi explanation as insufficient. Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said the Saudi version lacked "consistency and credibility."

Growing pressure

Closer to home, pressure continued to grow on Mr. Trump to take a stronger stance against Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter and a key regional power.

Several senior members of Mr. Trump's Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed, 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 Mr. Trump stopped far short of calling for the prince to be replaced, emphasizing 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 Mr. Trump. “I mean that in a positive way.”

Mr. Trump added that he has yet to be shown any evidence by intelligence officials that would make him believe MBS had any direct role.

“Nobody has told me he's responsible. Nobody has told me he's not responsible. We haven't reached that point. I haven’t heard either way,” the President said.

“There is a possibility he found out about it afterward. It could be something in the building went badly awry. It could be that's when he found out about it. He could have known they were bringing him back to Saudi Arabia.”

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 2:53:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/turkey-will-reveal-naked-truth-over-khashoggi-death-says-erdogan/article25279972.ece

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