Turkish Police to Search Saudi Consul's Home in Missing Journalist Probe

Investigators are expected to search the consulate again on Tuesday as part of the investigation into Jamal Khashoggi's fate

Turkish police officers arrive to enter the Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 15, 2018.
Emrah Gurel, AP

Turkish police will search the Saudi consul's residence in Istanbul, Turkish broadcaster NTV said on Tuesday, as part of the probe into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Investigators are expected to search the consulate again on Tuesday, NTV said.

Turkish investigators who searched the Saudi consulate the day before took evidence including soil samples, a senior Turkish official said Tuesday. 

"The Turkish crime scene investigators carried out searches in the consulate and took the things deemed necessary," the official told Reuters after a Turkish team carried out a nine-hour search of the premises.

What we know so far about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

A crime scene investigation team of around 10 people left the consulate after completing a search early on Tuesday, the witness said. The Turkish prosecutor assigned to the case has also left the consulate.

Four forensic vehicles arrived outside the consulate and took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden, the Reuters witness said. A police dog was part of the search team. 

The team entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier on Monday for what Turkish officials called a joint inspection of the building where Khashoggi disappeared nearly two weeks ago.

The team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate and said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building. Police then pushed back journalists from the front of the consulate, where they've been stationed for days, setting up a new cordon to keep them away.

AP infographic
AP infographics

The makeup of the investigative team that entered the diplomatic compound was not immediately clear. International concern continues to grow over the writer's October 2 disappearance. American lawmakers have threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain have jointly called for a "credible investigation" into Khashoggi's disappearance.

A Foreign Ministry official had earlier said the team would visit the diplomatic post Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. Officials in Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on October 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations "baseless" but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Such a search would be an extraordinary development, as embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the international community.

However, it remained unclear what evidence, if any, would remain nearly two weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance. As if to drive the point home, a cleaning crew with mops, trash bags and cartons of milk walked in past journalists waiting outside the consulate on Monday.