Turkey charges 20 Saudis over Khashoggi murder

ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors have charged 20 suspects including two former top aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the 2018 murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi.

Prosecutors accuse Saudi Arabia's deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court's media czar Saud al-Qahtani of leading the operation against Khashoggi and giving orders to a Saudi hit team.

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READ: UN investigator says Saudi royal adviser should be tried for Khashoggi killing

Khashoggi, 59, a commentator who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate on Oct 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork for his wedding to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

The Saudi insider-turned-critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials.

His remains have never been found despite repeated calls by Turkish officials for the Saudis to cooperate.

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Riyadh insists he was killed in a "rogue" operation.

But the CIA, a UN special envoy and Ankara have directly linked the Saudi crown prince to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.

READ: Khashoggi's murder 'happened under my watch', says Saudi crown prince

The CIA, the UN and Turkey have directly linked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies. (Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS)

'MONSTROUS KILLING'

Turkey carried out its own investigation after being unhappy with Saudi Arabia's explanations.

The Istanbul prosecutor's office said in a statement that Assiri and Qahtani were charged with "instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment".

The murder caused relations to between Ankara and Riyadh – which have a longstanding geopolitical rivalry – to worsen.

Saudis, who enjoy investing and holidaying in Turkey, were urged to boycott the country last year.

Turkey is a key backer of Qatar, especially after a Riyadh-led economic blockade began against the Gulf state in 2017, and is accused of supporting groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saudi Arabia views the Brotherhood as an existential threat.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed Ankara will not give up the case.

"This happened in my country, how am I not going to follow up on that? Of course I'm going to follow up. This is our responsibility," Erdogan told Fox News last year.

'INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE'

Eighteen other suspects – including intelligence operative Maher Mutreb who frequently travelled with the crown prince on foreign tours, forensic expert SalRead More – Source

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