ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey said on Monday the world should seek justice for slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi under international law after Riyadh ruled out extraditing two senior Saudi officials who Turkish officials suspect planned his killing in Istanbul.
Fahrettin Altun, director of communications at the Turkish presidency, said Riyadh’s refusal to extradite the suspects was very disappointing and would play into the hands of critics “who believe Saudi Arabia has been trying to cover up the murder”.
Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed two months ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he went there to collect documents for his forthcoming marriage.
Altun told Reuters that Saudi authorities had not been sufficiently cooperative and Turkey has seen “little evidence of the Saudi prosecutors intending to shed light on what happened to Mr. Khashoggi”.
Therefore “it will be in the best interest of the international community to seek justice for the late Saudi journalist under international law,” Altun said.
Turkey’s foreign minister said last month Ankara may seek a formal United Nations inquiry if its dealings with Saudi Arabia came to an impasse, but Altun’s comments appeared to be the most direct call yet to widen the investigation.
Altun said Saudi intelligence operatives, including an autopsy expert, traveled to Istanbul for the specific purpose of killing Khashoggi. The Saudi consul “was apparently complicit in this crime”, he added.
Turkish officials said last week that the Istanbul prosecutor’s office had concluded there was “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed, and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who served as deputy head of foreign intelligence, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s killing.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir ruled out sending them to Turkey for trial. “We don’t extradite our citizens,” he said at a Gulf Arab summit in Riyadh.
Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by David Dolan