Order to Kill Khashoggi Came From 'Highest Levels' of Saudi Government, Says Erdogan

In Washington Post op-ed, Turkish president stresses he does not believe 'for a second' that King Salman had ordered 'the hit' on the fierce critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, April 14, 2016
\ MURAD SEZER/ REUTERS

The order to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi came from the "highest levels" of the Saudi government, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an op-ed piece published by the Washington Post on Friday.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul exactly one month ago on October 2.

Erdogan said he did not believe "for a second" that King Salman had ordered "the hit" on Khashoggi and he also refrained from directly accusing the crown prince.

An adviser to Erdogan said last week that MBS, as the crown prince is informally known, had "blood on his hands" over Khashoggi's killing, the bluntest comments yet from someone linked to Erdogan about bin Salman in connection with the death.

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The Saudi government initially insisted Khashoggi had left the consulate, later saying he died in an unplanned "rogue operation". Last week, the kingdom's public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb said the attack was premeditated.

"No one should dare to commit such acts on the soil of a NATO ally again. If anyone chooses to ignore that warning, they will face severe consequences," Erdogan warned.

Earlier on Friday, another Erdogan adviser said the team that killed Khashoggi in Istanbul cut up his body in order to dissolve it for easier disposal, the newspaper Hurriyet reported.

Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London Britain, September 29, 2018
\ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Yasin Aktay, who advises Erdogan and was a friend of Khashoggi's, told Hurriyet that the body was disposed of by dismembering and dissolving.

"According to the latest information we have, the reason they dismembered his body is to dissolve it easier."