ISTANBUL: A Turkish prosecutor has demanded that arrest warrants be issued against two Saudi nationals close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish source close to the investigation said yesterday. Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage. The chief prosecutor’s office in Istanbul filed an application Tuesday to obtain the warrants for Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, described in court documents as being “among the planners” of the murder of the Washington Post contributor Khashoggi.
Assiri often sat in during Prince Mohammed’s closed-door meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries and Qahtani was a key counsellor to the crown prince. Both were sacked after Riyadh admitted Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate. According to Turkey, a 15-member Saudi team was sent to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government, but has insisted it was not King Salman. Riyadh has since detained 21 people over the murder. Despite speculation that the powerful crown prince ordered the hit, the kingdom has strongly denied he was involved. But two key US Republican senators said a Tuesday briefing by the CIA’s director only strengthened their conviction that Prince Mohammed directed the murder. —Agencies