Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at the United States for not taking a tougher position against Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, as he demanded answers from the kingdom over the journalist’s killing.
“I cannot understand America’s silence when such a horrific attack took place, and even after members of the CIA listened to the recordings we provided,” Erdogan said in an interview aired by state broadcaster TRT on Sunday.
“We want everything to be clarified because there is an atrocity, there is a murder,” he added, calling the killing “not an ordinary one.”
Erdogan has long insisted that the order to kill Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul four months ago came from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
In the interview, Erdogan said the murder was planned by 22 people, 15 of whom arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate on the day of the killing.
“What they [Saudi Arabia] say is ’22 people are arrested now’. Despite this, we have some information. They might have taken some of them out. They might be victims of traffic accidents. Because the system there is working very weird,” he said.
Last month, a trial opened in Riyadh of 11 defendants over the killing, including five people facing the death penalty. Several rights groups and international observers, however, have said it lacked credibility.
Erdogan’s latest remarks came as Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, on Sunday concluded a week-long trip to Turkey to gather information on the events surrounding Khashoggi’s murder four months ago.
Callamard is understood to have heard the grisly audio recordings of the Saudi journalist’s last moments, which are in Turkey’s possession and were previously shared with CIA Director Gina Haspel, as well as Germany, France and Britain.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered on October 2 soon after he entered the Istanbul-based consulate to collect documents for his planned wedding to a Turkish woman.
US intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, whose body is yet to be found.
In December, the US Senate passed a bill that directly pinned the blame for the murder on the crown prince and ordered the US military to cease all assistance to the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
US President Donald Trump, however, has repeatedly insisted there was no definitive evidence connecting MBS with the crime.
After giving contradictory statements about Khashoggi’s whereabouts, Saudi Arabia admitted he was killed inside its consulate and his body was dismembered.
The kingdom maintains Prince Mohammed – Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler – had no knowledge of the killing, calling it the result of a “rogue operation” carried out without his knowledge.