Turkish Prosecutor Says Saudis Strangled Khashoggi

Turkish Prosecutor Says Saudis Strangled Khashoggi

After initially contending that he had left the consulate and that they had no idea where he was, the Saudis then conceded that he had died there, but at the hands of a group of “rogue killers” during an operation that went wrong.

The Saudis shifted gears again last week, with the country’s chief prosecutor acknowledging that the killing had been “premeditated,” citing new information that had been provided by the Turkish authorities.

The prosecutor’s revelation that Mr. Khashoggi had been strangled came after a strategy by Turkey of leaking details of its investigation to the media, drip by drip, to pressure Saudi Arabia to come clean.

Over the last month Turkey, has leaked lurid details about Mr. Khashoggi’s death, including the role of a Saudi forensic specialist wielding a bone saw and how, the audio recording suggested, he put on head phones to listen to music as he set to work. Turkish officials also released the photographs and names of 15 Saudi officials who flew in to Turkey the day Mr. Khashoggi was killed, some of whom proved to be security officials close to the crown prince.

Turkish media published further details Wednesday ahead of the prosecutor’s announcement, citing unnamed Turkish officials who had listened to the audio recordings.

“They forced Saudi Arabia to admit responsibility by leaking some of the evidence,” said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, the Ankara director for the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “But also by not making all of the evidence public they have gained leverage.”

He said Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is now using that leverage in relations with Saudi Arabia, but also to an extent with the Trump administration, which has pinned its Middle East policy closely to its relationship with Saudi Arabia and in particular the crown prince. Mr. Erdogan could use it defensively to protect his interests, or he could choose to release it.

“If he gave it to social media,” Mr. Unluhisarcikli said, “imagine the damage.”

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