ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday scolded the Trump administration for not confronting Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He said that his government was in possession of additional “documents” related to the case it had not shared.
“The CIA has yet to put all their weight on this issue. America needs to put their presence and their weight on this issue,” he said while talking about the United States’ bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Erdogan’s comments, during a live television interview with a private Turkish broadcaster, came a day after police in Istanbul offered a theory about the disposal of Khashoggi’s remains by Saudi agents who allegedly killed the journalist. The police said his body may have been burned, according to Turkey’s state-run news agency.
Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul soon after he entered the building on Oct. 2 to obtain documents that would allow him to remarry. His body, which was dismembered, has not been located.
The president’s interview and the police report suggest a renewed effort by Turkey to pressure the Saudi leadership at a delicate moment for the kingdom. In the past few weeks, U.S. lawmakers have moved to punish Saudi Arabia for alleged human rights abuses and its military intervention in Yemen.
A United Nations human rights expert who has opened an independent investigation into the Khashoggi killing said in a preliminary finding this month that Saudi Arabia had “seriously curtailed and undermined” Turkey’s attempts to investigate the crime.
In November, the CIA concluded with medium-to-high confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman probably ordered the killing of Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post who had written articles criticizing the prince. Saudi officials have vigorously denied that Mohammed was involved. President Trump has defended the crown prince and argued that the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia should not be threatened because of the Khashoggi case.
Saudi Arabia has cast the killing as a rogue operation carried out by Saudi officials who had disobeyed orders to bring Khashoggi back to the kingdom alive. Saudi prosecutors have indicted 11 unidentified people and said they are seeking the death penalty for five of them.
In his comments Friday, Erdogan mocked Saudi assurances that justice would be served and suggested Turkey would eventually make public the evidence it has collected, including audio recordings from inside the consulate.
“We have not given all the documents we have, from A to Z, in our hands,” Erdogan said.
He also reiterated his demand that the Saudi government divulge the name of the person who ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
“Is it possible for these 15 people not to know?” he said, referring to the Saudi agents who had traveled to Istanbul, some of whom are in Saudi custody.
“These 15 people know who gave this order. If this was another subject, we know very well how Saudi Arabia would make them talk,” he said.
Fahim reported from Athens.