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Saudis Strangled and Dismembered Khashoggi, Turkey Says

ISTANBUL — The Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was strangled almost as soon as he stepped into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul a month ago, and his body was then dismembered and destroyed, the chief prosecutor for Istanbul said on Wednesday, giving the first official explanation from Turkey of how Mr. Khashoggi died.

The killing of Mr. Khashoggi has significantly raised tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Western intelligence analysts and Turkish officials have maintained that the operation could not have been carried out without the consent of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia.

Prince Mohammed had sent a prosecutor to Istanbul for talks this week, but a statement from Irfan Fidan, the chief prosecutor for Istanbul, said that three days of meetings with his Saudi counterpart were largely unproductive.

“Despite all our good intentions and efforts to unravel the truth, a concrete outcome was not reached from the meetings,” the statement said. The Saudi chief prosecutor, Saud al-Mujeb, left for the airport and was scheduled to return to Saudi Arabia.

Turkish officials had previously revealed details about the Oct. 2 death of Mr. Khashoggi, including the strangling and dismemberment, but always anonymously and usually through leaks to the Turkish news media.

The decision to release information, on the record, about Mr. Khashoggi’s death was an indication of Turkey’s frustration with the failure of the Saudis to answer three key questions: Where was Mr. Khashoggi’s body? Had the Saudi investigators uncovered evidence of premeditation? Who was the “local collaborator” who is said to have disposed of his remains?

The questions were asked and submitted in writing in consecutive meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr. Fidan’s statement said, and it “was emphasized that an answer was expected.” Instead, the Turkish prosecutor was invited to visit Saudi Arabia with his evidence and conduct joint interrogations of the 18 Saudis who have been detained in connection with the killing.

That response that prompted Mr. Fidan to publicly announce publicly Turkey’s conclusions about the cause of death.

His statement said the government of Turkey was obligated to share the details with the public in light of the “enormity of the event.” The investigation would continue “in all it dimensions and depth,” the statement concluded

The statement, which was distributed to Turkish news channels and read out by reporters on live television, said that Mr. Khashoggi died of suffocation and his body dismembered and completely destroyed. It made no reference to an audio recording, which has reportedly been played for the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, that depicts the gruesome nature of Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

Mr. Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had entered the Saudi Consulate to obtain a document required for his marriage the next day.

No body has been found, and Turkish officials have repeatedly demanded that Saudi officials reveal the location of his remains and who helped the Saudis cover up the killing. The Saudi foreign minister has said that a “local collaborator” was involved in handling the disposal of Mr. Khashoggi’s body, but Saudi officials have since disavowed that claim, Mr. Fidan’s statement said.

Saudi Arabia’s account of what happened to Mr. Khashoggi has shifted repeatedly in the nearly four weeks since he disappeared.

After initially contending that Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate and that they had no idea where he was, the Saudis then conceded that he had died inside the consulate, but only at the hands of a group of “rogue killers” during an operation that went wrong.

The Saudis shifted gears again last week, with the country’s chief prosecutor acknowledging that the killing had been “premeditated,” citing new information that had been provided by the Turkish authorities.

Source: NYT > World

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