By David Gauthier-Villars |
ISTANBUL — Turkey said agents sent to Istanbul by Saudi Arabia to help investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance worked instead to remove murder evidence — a finding Ankara said reinforced their conclusion that top Saudi officials knew in advance of a plan to kill the journalist.
Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia say Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident writer and a vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. On Oct. 11, however, when a Saudi delegation came to Istanbul to assist Turkish investigators, the kingdom was contending that the Washington Post contributor had left its consulate alive and that it was actively looking for him.
Turkish investigators have concluded that at least two members of the 11-member delegation were assigned to cleaning up the consulate and the consul general’s residence, according to a senior Turkish official. Their role was to remove evidence before Turkish police were allowed to inspect the premises, the official said, confirming information published by Turkish daily newspaper Sabah on Monday.
“The fact that a cleanup team was dispatched from Saudi Arabia nine days after the murder suggests that Khashoggi’s slaying was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials,” the official said.