Turkey al­leges lack of Saudi co­op­er­a­tion

The Washington Post - - THE WORLD - BY LOVE­DAY MOR­RIS AND SOUAD MEKHEN­NET love­day.mor­ris@wash­post.com souad.mekhen­net@wash­post.com

is­tan­bul — Turk­ish of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day ac­cused Saudi Ara­bia of not co­op­er­at­ing with Turkey’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of prom­i­nent Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at the king­dom’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul last week, as video footage and the names of a 15-mem­ber Saudi team sus­pected of ties to the case emerged.

Turkey has put in a re­quest to en­ter the con­sulate, where Khashoggi was last seen Oct. 2 as he stepped through the com­pound’s front gate to ob­tain pa­pers for his wed­ding. How­ever, de­spite Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man’s of­fer to Bloomberg News for the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment to search the premises, Saudi Ara­bia is de­lay­ing and does not want an in­ves­tiga­tive team to en­ter, one se­nior Turk­ish of­fi­cial said.

Saudi of­fi­cials in Wash­ing­ton did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

“The Saudis now seem to de­lay,” the Turk­ish of­fi­cial said, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. “They say: ‘ You can’t make a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion here. You just come here for a cup of tea and we’ll show you around.’ ”

“The Saudis are not co­op­er­a­tive in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” an­other Turk­ish of­fi­cial said. “We don’t have the ac­cess we need to the con­sulate or to the con­sul’s house.”

Un­der the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion, a host coun­try can­not en­ter the grounds of a for­eign diplo­matic mis­sion with­out per­mis­sion. Saudi of­fi­cials strongly deny any in­volve­ment in the dis­ap­pear­ance of Khashoggi, a con­trib­u­tor to The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Global Opin­ions sec­tion, and in­sist that he left the con­sulate un­harmed that day. How­ever, they have not pre­sented any ev­i­dence to back that claim. They say their nu­mer­ous video cam­eras were not record­ing at the time.

The se­nior Turk­ish of­fi­cial said Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have “strong in­di­ca­tions” that Khashoggi was killed in­side the con­sulate. They also hope to search the Saudi con­sul gen­eral’s res­i­dence, 500 yards away. Sev­eral ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a black Mercedes-Benz Vito van, headed from the con­sulate to the res­i­dence two hours af­ter Khashoggi en­tered the diplo­matic fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to a video ob­tained by The Post on Wed­nes­day that pur­ported to lay out the move­ments of the 15mem­ber team.

The footage was com­piled and edited by Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties piec­ing to­gether a time­line of the events of Oct. 2, the last day Khashoggi was seen, ac­cord­ing to a per­son close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion who pro­vided it. It came as the Turk­ish news­pa­per Sabah pub­lished the iden­ti­ties of the 15 men.

Three Turk­ish of­fi­cials con­firmed that the list was ac­cu­rate.

“We know all the names,” said one, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the in­for­ma­tion is sen­si­tive. “They are cor­rect.”

One was a “foren­sic ex­pert,” the se­nior Turk­ish of­fi­cial said.

The Turk­ish of­fi­cial said au­thor­i­ties be­lieve that the 15mem­ber team killed Khashoggi at the con­sulate. Whether that was de­lib­er­ate or an ac­ci­dent is not clear. The of­fi­cial said mem­bers of the team drove around Is­tan­bul look­ing for parks and open ar­eas in what he spec­u­lated may have been an at­tempt to find a place to dis­pose of a body.

“There is no body,” he said. “If there is no body, you can’t say it’s mur­der.”

The of­fi­cial said there were in­di­ca­tions that the body may have been dis­mem­bered. Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have gath­ered per­sonal ef­fects and clothes of Khashoggi to ob­tain his DNA as they re­quest ac­cess to the diplo­matic build­ings. They are also in pos­ses­sion of two cell­phones that his fi­ancee said he left out­side with her be­fore en­ter­ing the con­sulate. He was also wear­ing an Ap­ple Watch the day he dis­ap­peared, said one per­son fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ap­ple Watches can track data such as the wearer’s heart rate.

The video shows a pri­vate jet that Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties say the men used land­ing at the air­port. It ar­rives at 3:28 a.m. with nine peo­ple on board, the video shows. They then checked in at Möven­pick Ho­tel Is­tan­bul, a short drive from the con­sulate.

At the Möven­pick ear­lier in the week, man­age­ment would not con­firm or deny that the ho­tel was part of po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions. But one ho­tel worker said Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties had vis­ited sev­eral days ear­lier to look into guests who ar­rived Oct. 2.

Other mem­bers of the pur­ported Saudi team ar­rived at “dif­fer­ent times,” ac­cord­ing to the video. Some mem­bers re­port­edly stayed at a Wyn­d­ham Grand ho­tel in Is­tan­bul.

The video gives in­sight into Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance. How­ever, The Post can­not fully ver­ify its au­then­tic­ity; the video is highly edited and con­tains in­con­sis­ten­cies.

Video time stamps show a black Mercedes Vito leav­ing the Saudi Con­sulate a minute be­fore it ar­rives at the con­sul gen­eral’s house. The per­son who pro­vided the video said au­thor­i­ties are aware of that in­con­sis­tency and said one of the cam­era’s timers was not ac­cu­rate.

He said the video was pre­pared by Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties “for in­ter­nal pur­poses.” The cov­ered carports at both the con­sul gen­eral’s house and the con­sulate shield from the cam­eras who is en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing the cars.

Hat­ice Cen­giz, Khashoggi’s fi­ancee, said the fig­ure en­ter­ing the con­sulate ap­pears to be Khashoggi and the fig­ure is dressed as she last saw him. She waited out­side af­ter he went in.

Cen­giz said the fig­ure seen in the video pac­ing out­side while on the phone could be her, but she can­not be sure. It is too dis­tant to be clear, she said.

Saudi Ara­bia does not want an in­ves­tiga­tive team to en­ter its con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, one se­nior Turk­ish of­fi­cial said.

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