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  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey Oct. 23, 2018.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey Oct. 23, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 October 2018

President Erdogan's comments came as Reuters reported that CIA Director Gina Haspel was traveling to Turkey to work on the Khashoggi investigation.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed Tuesday attempts by Riyadh to blame Jamal Khashoggi's "savage" killing on rogue operatives, saying the person who ordered the death of the prominent Saudi journalist must "be brought to account."

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In a speech to parliament about a case that has sparked outrage around the globe, Erdogan did not mention Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who some U.S. lawmakers suspect ordered the killing.

But he said Turkey would not complete its investigation into Khashoggi's death until all questions have been answered, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body, and the identity of a local collaborator Riyadh says disposed of the body.

"Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned. .... Pinning such a case on some security and intelligence members will not satisfy us or the international community," he said.

"The Saudi administration has taken an important step by admitting to the murder. From now on, we expect them to uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom and make them face the necessary punishments."

"From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account."

A Saudi cabinet meeting chaired by King Salman said Riyadh would hold to account those responsible for the killing and those who failed in their duties, whoever they were.

Erdogan's speech coincided with the opening in Riyadh of an investment conference which Western political figures, leading international bankers, and company executives have boycotted because of the furor around Khashoggi's death.

The Washington Post columnist, a former aide to the Saudi royal court who recently turned into a sharp critic of the crown prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, disappeared three weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents. Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting the killing of the 59-year-old. Erdogan made no reference to any audio recording in his speech.

Riyadh initially denied knowledge of his fate before saying he was killed in a fight in the consulate.

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Erdogan said three operatives arrived in Istanbul the day before Khashoggi's killing on an apparent reconnaissance mission. The next day, 15 people came to the consulate, including security, intelligence and forensic experts. Consulate personnel were given the day off.

"Why did these 15 people meet in Istanbul on the day of the murder? We are seeking answers to this. Who are these people receiving orders from?" Erdogan said. He added he wanted Saudi Arabia to send the suspects to Turkey for trial.

The news comes as CIA Director Gina Haspel was traveling to Turkey Monday to work on the Khashoggi investigation, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

On Saturday, Saudi state media said King Salman had fired five officials over the killing, including Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide who ran social media for Prince Mohammed.

Despite the furor, Saudi Arabia said it expected to sign deals worth more than $50 billion in the oil, gas, industries and infrastructure sectors on the opening day, with companies including Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.

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