ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will not allow a cover-up after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a senior member of President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party said on Sunday, warning that consequences could be “dire”.
After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said the journalist and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had died in a fistfight at the consulate. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.
“If the incident transpired as it has been told across the world, there is no way Saudi officials can cover this up by saying a team from Saudi Arabia came and two or three men among them murdered him,” Numan Kurtulmus, deputy chairman of the AKP told CNN Turk in an interview.
“A crime committed in a consulate cannot be carried out without the knowledge of the senior state officials of that country. If this crime was really carried out as has been said, if the evidence really leads to that conclusion, the situation will be dire and this must have very serious legal consequences.”
Reflecting the intensifying international scepticism over its account, a senior Saudi government official has laid out a new version that in key respects contradicts previous explanations.
The latest account includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and then killed him in a chokehold when he resisted. A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.
Reporting by Omer Berberoglu and Yesim Dikmen; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Richard Balmforth