Tur­key seeks ar­rest of Saudis over Khashoggi killing

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ANKARA — Is­tan­bul’s chief pros­e­cu­tor has filed war­rants for the ar­rest of a top aide to Saudi Ara­bia’s de facto ruler and the deputy head of for­eign in­tel­li­gence on sus­pi­cion of plan­ning the killing of Ja­mal Khashoggi, two Turk­ish of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice has con­cluded there is “strong sus­pi­cion” that Saud al-Qah­tani and Gen­eral Ahmed al- Asiri, who were re­moved from their po­si­tions in Oc­to­ber, were among the plan­ners of the Oc­to­ber 2 killing at the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, the of­fi­cials said.

“The pros­e­cu­tion’s move to is­sue ar­rest war­rants for Asiri and Qah­tani re­flects the view that the Saudi au­thor­i­ties won’t take for­mal ac­tion against those in­di­vid­u­als,” one of the Turk­ish of­fi­cials said.

The move also comes a day af­ter se­nior US se­na­tors said they were more cer­tain than ever that Saudi Ara­bia’s crown prince, Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, was re­spon­si­ble for the killing of Khashoggi af­ter re­ceiv­ing a CIA brief­ing on the mat­ter.

Mak­ing some of their strong­est ac­cu­sa­tions so far, both Repub­li­cans and Democrats said they still want to pass leg­is­la­tion to send a mes­sage to Saudi Ara­bia that the United States con­demns the death of Khashoggi, a colum­nist.

But Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and some of his fel­low Repub­li­cans have ar­gued that Wash­ing­ton should not take ac­tion that would risk its re­la­tion­ship with Riyadh, which is viewed as an im­por­tant coun­ter­weight to Iran in the Mid­dle East.

“The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity seems to doubt Saudi Ara­bia’s com­mit­ment to pros­e­cute this heinous crime. By ex­tra­dit­ing all sus­pects to Tur­key, where Ja­mal Khashoggi was killed and dis­mem­bered, the Saudi au­thor­i­ties could ad­dress those con­cerns,” the Turk­ish of­fi­cial said.

Khashoggi was killed af­ter vis­it­ing the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oc­to­ber 2. Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan has said the or­der for Khashoggi’s killing came from the high­est level of the Saudi gov­ern­ment but prob­a­bly not King Sal­man, putting the spot­light in­stead on Sal­man’s heir and de facto ruler Prince Mo­hammed.

Saudi Ara­bia has said the prince had no prior knowl­edge of the mur­der. Af­ter of­fer­ing nu­mer­ous con­tra­dic­tory ex­pla­na­tions, Riyadh later said Khashoggi had been killed and his body dis­mem­bered when ne­go­ti­a­tions to per­suade him to re­turn to Saudi Ara­bia failed. — REUTERS

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