The sons of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi have asked Saudi authorities to return the body of their father so the family can properly grieve, they told CNN in an interview.
Khashoggi was killed inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul by a team sent from Riyadh on October 2, a murder Turkey’s president said was ordered from “the highest levels” of Saudi Arabia’s government.
“I really hope that whatever happened wasn’t painful for him, or it was quick. Or he had a peaceful death,” Abdullah Khashoggi told the US network during the interview in Washington on Sunday.
His brother Salah said “all what we want right now is to bury him in Al Baqi in Medina with the rest of his family,” referencing a cemetery in Saudi Arabia.
“I talked about that with the Saudi authorities and I just hope that it happens soon.”
Salah told CNN that his handshake with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shortly before he left Saudi Arabia was misinterpreted in the media.
“I mean there was nothing, they were just over-analysing the whole situation … I understand why they’re trying to do that. They’re trying to get as much information as they can out of anything, which is something that we’re also doing. Sometimes they’re just baseless claims, sometimes they just don’t make any sense,” he told the network.
Turkey’s chief prosecutor said recently that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the consulate and also confirmed the body was dismembered.
Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Monday that the acid theory needs to be further investigated.
He told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency it was now accepted that Khashoggi was targeted in a premeditated murder.
“The question now is who gave the orders. This is what we are seeking answers to now,” Oktay said. “Another question is where the body is … There are reports of [the body] being dissolved with acid now. All of these need to be looked at.”
A newspaper close to Turkey’s government claimed on Monday that a team from Saudi Arabia sent to help Turkish authorities investigate the killing worked instead to remove evidence of the slaying.
Sabah newspaper, citing “trusted sources,” said that an 11-member team of Saudi investigators that arrived in Turkey nine days after Khashoggi was killed included a chemical expert and a toxicology expert.
Khashoggi’s killing has provoked widespread outrage and sharp criticism from Washington, usually the staunchest of allies.
Khashoggi’s sons voiced worry that the work of their father, a columnist for The Washington Post, was being distorted for political reasons.
“I see a lot of people coming out right now and trying to claim his legacy and unfortunately, some of them are using that in a political way that we totally don’t agree with,” Salah told CNN. “My fear is that it’s being over politicised.”
“Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy, that it is the thing that is keeping the country together.”
The brothers said they have relied primarily on news reports to piece together an understanding of their father’s death.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs … We’re trying to get the story – bits and pieces of the story to complete the whole picture,” Abdullah said. “It’s confusing and difficult.”
“It’s not a normal situation and not a normal death.”
Salah emphasised that “the king has stressed that everybody will be brought to justice. And I have faith in that.”
The murdered journalist’s fiancee meanwhile has called on US President Donald Trump to back Turkey’s efforts to probe the death.