- REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares/Pool
- Turkey has issued arrest warrants for two of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s former aides in connection with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- This means that the investigation has neared Mohammad bin Salman, who is widely suspected of orchestrating the killing, but stopped short of implicating him.
- But reports say that the crown prince was planning to assign blame to those close to him and that he then fired in punishment over the killing.
- This could mean that Turkey’s investigation if it does not continue, is working as the crown prince wanted.
Turkey’s probe into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is moving closer to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as it issues new arrest warrants for two of the prince’s former aides believed to be involved in the killing.
Anadolu, Turkey’s official news agency reported that a court approved the arrest warrants for former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who were both fired from their positions in October in connection with Khashoggi’s killing.
The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s Tuesday court application says there is “strong suspicion” the two aides were involved in planning the killing.
“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, according to Reuters.
Both men were close to Crown Prince Mohammed, but Turkey has not officially implicated the prince in the killing of the Washington Post columnist inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.
The crown prince is widely suspected of orchestrating Khashoggi’s killing, a position reportedly reached with “high confidence” by the CIA. US senators left a CIA briefing on Tuesday with “no question” that he had directed the killing.
Crown Prince Mohammed reportedly sent 11 messages to al-Qahtani, who is accused of overseeing the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi, on the day the journalist was killed. Al-Qahtani was sanctioned by the White House last month for his involvement.
Saudi Arabia’s leadership was planning on using al-Assiri as a scapegoat and assigning blame for the killing to him, according to reports in October.
Turkey zeroing in on these men means that Turkey has moving closer to Crown Prince Mohammed, but so far they’re in line with a reported plan to assign blame to those under him and forgo the incredibly bold step of issuing an arrest warrant for the absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi leadership has said that the killing was done without their knowledge or intervention, and promised to investigate the death.