The Baghdad’s chief focuses on Iraq’s policy, security and the struggle against the Islamic state
Tamer El-Ghobashy The Baghdad's chief focuses on Iraq's policy, security and the struggle against the Islamic state 19 October at…
BREAKING NEWS: Jamal Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, had disappeared after joining the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get the documents he needed for his future marriage  ISTANBUL – Turkish prosecutors questioned staff at the Saudi consulate on Friday, said state media and suggested that efforts to strengthen a possible criminal case with inside information from last location journalist Jamal Khashoggi were seen alive.
An unprecedented number of consular staff in Istanbul was interviewed by prosecutors, reported the Semi-Anadolu news agency, one day after Turkish authorities began combing through forest-populated areas outside of Istanbul in an apparent search for Khashoggi remnants.
Turkish officials say that Khashoggi, a Washington Post-sponsored columnist and US resident, was killed by a 15-member Saudi army after joining the consulate on October 2.
Saudi Arabian leaders deny knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate and promised their own preliminary investigation. But any finds from the realm are likely to draw deep skepticism from a country driven by its rulers and without independent investigative agencies.
The switch to the consular staff proposes that investigators try to strengthen a criminal case. Turkish officials say they also have an audio tape aimed at recording Khashoggi’s killing, but the tape has not been shared with US or Saudi officials.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has provoked global criticism of Saudi Arabia’s actual ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and hugged the empire as it struggles to respond to increased international pressure to explain the destiny of the journalist.
Turkish media reports say more than a dozen Turkish employees in the consulate – including technicians, drivers, telephone operators and accountants – were interviewed by prosecutors.
Their accounts could provide valuable insights about the movements of Saudi officials during the mission for hours and days before and after Khashoggi disappeared.
It was not clear why the investigators waited more than two weeks to complete the interviews, but the move comes one day after Turkish officials said they are looking for two forest areas outside of Istanbul for any remains.
Until recently, the investigation has focused on the consulate in Istanbul’s Levent district and the nearest residence of the Saudi consulate, Mohammed al-Otaibi , who left Turkey this week.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country had not left the sound record of Khashoggi’s alleged death to US officials but promised that Turkey would “share with the world” the results of its investigation, according to Anadolu.
On Thursday, President Trump said that Khashoggi was probably killed and warned of “very serious” action against Saudi Arabia if they were found to be responsible.
Several of the 15 Saudi suspects who were in Istanbul when Khashoggi went missing has close links with Saudi Arabian security forces. Some had social media as self-identifying as members of Mohammed’s royal guard. Questions about whether the Crown Prince had knowledge of a plan to target Khashoggi.
A person near the White House said Thursday Saudi officials are considering a plan to protect Mohammed from review and duty by blaming Khashoggi’s apparent death on an operation ordered by Maj Ahmed al-Assiri, deputy chief of Saudi intelligence and one close adviser to the crown prince.
The person spoke on terms of anonymity because he has no authority to speak on behalf of the administration or the Saudi government.