Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said he is personally monitoring an investigation launched into the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
“We have been awaiting the results of the investigation by the prosecutor’s office. It is very sad to see that this happened in our country,” Erdoğan told journalists Ankara.
Saying that he has known Khashoggi for a long time, Erdoğan said: “A friend. For this reason, I still have faith. God willing, we will not see an end that we don’t want.”
“As president of Turkey, I am following this issue. I’m pursuing it. We will undoubtedly inform the world of the results of this investigation.”
Underlining his expectation that people who believe in freedom of expression and freedom of thought will pursue the issue until the end, the Turkish president added:
“All of consulate’s exits has been examined. All entries and exits at the airport have also been examined. Our police have been doing it. We will see. We want to quickly get to the bottom of this.”
Turkish police have concluded that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi mission in Istanbul after going missing on Tuesday, AFP reported, citing an unnamed government official.
“Based on their initial findings, the police believe that the journalist was killed by a team especially sent to İstanbul and who left the same day,” the official told AFP.
The news came hours after police confirmed that around 15 Saudis, including officials, arrived in Istanbul on two flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as the journalist.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, “did not come back out” of the building, police had told the state-run Anadolu news agency.
On the back of this preliminary investigation, Ankara announced Saturday it had opened an official probe into the journalist’s disappearance.
A former government adviser who has been critical of some policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh’s intervention in the war in Yemen, Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year to avoid possible arrest.
The Saudi crown prince earlier denied in an interview with Bloomberg that the journalist was inside the consulate and said Turkish authorities could search the building.
“We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises,” he said.
The consulate is Saudi sovereign territory.
Turkey’s foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Saudi Arabia’s ambassador over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Khashoggi, who would turn 60 on Oct. 13, fled the country in September 2017, months after Prince Mohammed was appointed heir to the throne and amid a campaign that saw dozens of dissidents arrested, including intellectuals and Islamic preachers.
The journalist said he had been banned from writing in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, owned by Saudi prince Khaled bin Sultan al-Saud, over his defense of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Riyadh has blacklisted as a terrorist organization.
Khashoggi has also criticized Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen, where Riyadh leads a military coalition fighting alongside the government in its war with Iran-backed rebels.