ISTANBUL (Reuters) - An adviser to Turkey’s president has said the team that killed prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul cut up his body in order to dissolve for easier disposal, the newspaper Hurriyet reported on Friday.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul exactly one month go on Oct. 2.
The Saudi government initially insisted Khashoggi had left the consulate, later saying he died in an unplanned “rogue operation”. Last week, the kingdom’s public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb said the attack was premeditated.
Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan said this week that Khashoggi was suffocated as soon as he entered the consulate, and his body was then cut up and disposed of.
Turkey has demanded that Saudi authorities tell them where the body is.
But Yasin Aktay, who advises President Tayyip Erdogan and was a friend of Khashoggi’s, told Hurriyet newspaper that the corpse was disposed of by dismembering and dissolving it.
“According to the latest information we have, the reason they dismembered his body is to dissolve it easier.”
This was the first time this detail has been mentioned. There was no immediate comment on the report from Turkish officials.
The kingdom has faced a torrent of international condemnation over the murder of Khashoggi, upending the young crown prince’s image as a reformer on the international stage.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said Saudi authorities staged the “worst cover-up ever” but has also made more conciliatory remarks that highlight Riyadh’s role as a U.S. ally against Iran and Islamist militants, as well as a purchaser of U.S. arms.
On Thursday, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters Khashoggi’s remains should be located and returned to his family for a burial as soon as possible.
Khashoggi had entered the consulate to get some papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside for hours before she alerted Turkish authorities.
“No matter how long I waited, the joyful Jamal did not return. All that came was news of his death,” Cengiz wrote in an op-ed widely published on Friday.
Cengiz praised Turkey’s investigation efforts and called on the United States to lead the way to bring perpetrators to justice.
“With this tragedy, the Trump administration has taken a position that is devoid of moral foundation,” she wrote.
“But we will continue to push the Trump administration to help find justice for Jamal. There will be no cover-up.”
Reporting by Sarah Dadouch and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Daren Butler and Angus MacSwan