October 24, 2018 / 12:14 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi officials refuse Turkish police search at well in Istanbul consulate - Anadolu

(Adds details, background)

ANKARA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Saudi officials have refused to allow Turkish police to search a well in the garden of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as part of the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.

Since Khashoggi’s disappearance more than three weeks ago, Turkish and Saudi authorities have carried out multiple searches at the consulate and consul general’s residence in Istanbul.

After weeks of conflicting accounts about the fate of the journalist, Saudi Arabia at the weekend said Khashoggi had been killed in a fight at the consulate, in what U.S. President Donald Trump later called the “worst cover-up ever”.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he would not let those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing escape justice, and has urged Saudi Arabia to search from “top to bottom” to uncover those behind the killing.

Saudi officials did not grant Turkish investigators permission to search the well inside the consulate’s garden, Anadolu said, citing security sources. On Tuesday investigators searched a Saudi consulate car in Istanbul. That search is due to continue on Wednesday.

Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and columnist for the Washington Post, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents on Oct. 2.

Riyadh called the killing a “huge and grave mistake,” on Sunday, but has sought to shield the crown prince from the widening crisis, saying Mohammed bin Salman had not been aware.

For Saudi Arabia’s allies, the question will be whether they believe that the crown prince, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability in the killing, a possibility raised by several U.S. lawmakers. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay; Editing by David Dolan)

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