Jamal Khashoggi was killed by asphyxiation "as soon as he entered" Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate, Turkish authorities said on Wednesday, as they accused Riyadh of refusing to co-operate on the investigation into his death.
Istanbul's chief prosecutor turned up the pressure on Saudi Arabia by offering the first confirmation of details that have circulated in the media, describing the method of killing with a Turkish term that can mean strangulation, suffocation or choking.
The chief prosecutor also said that Khashoggi’s body had been cut into pieces before being disposed of at an unknown location.
The details were released after a visit to Turkey by Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, which failed to yield information Turkey has been seeking about the killing.
Turkish investigators had wanted to use Mr al-Mojeb's trip to resolve a series of unanswered questions raised by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president.
On Tuesday Mr Erdogan accused Riyadh of playing games “to save some people” by refusing to answer questions about the location of Khashoggi’s body and the name of a local collaborator that Riyadh has said helped to dispose of his corpse.
Mr Erdogan’s gradual effort to raise the pressure on Riyadh – and the fact he has not repeated gruesome details about the killing – has prompted speculation that he could be trying to extract a deal from Riyadh and its most important western backer, the US, in exchange for refusing to release the most damning evidence.
Others have suggested that he could be seeking to lever Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who Ankara views as a destructive force, out of power.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said: “The victim, Jamal Khashoggi, entered the consulate of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on October 2, 2018 to conduct a marriage procedure and, in accordance with plans made in advance, was killed by asphyxiation as soon as he entered the building.”
It also said its two meetings with the Saudi prosecutor and an accompanying delegation had proved unsuccessful. “Despite our well-intentioned efforts to reveal the truth, we were unable to obtain concrete results from our meetings,” it said.
Mr al-Mojeb, who returned to Riyadh on Wednesday, used his visit to stress the need for Turkey and Saudi Arabia to work together to uncover the truth about the killing, the statement added.
It said that he had invited Istanbul’s chief prosecutor to visit the Gulf kingdom to present the findings of the Turkish investigation, but did not say whether or not Turkish investigators would accept the offer, stating only that the probe into the killing would continue.
Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi commentator who had grown increasingly critical of his country’s rulers since going into self-imposed exile last year, vanished after entering Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate on October 2nd to collect papers for his forthcoming marriage.
Riyadh initially denied all knowledge of his whereabouts, insisting he had left the building safely.
But a drip-feed of leaks to the local and international media piled pressure on the kingdom, which has been plunged into crisis by a killing that has sparked international outrage, and forced it to admit that he had died in the diplomatic mission.
Last week, Saudi authorities appeared to backtrack further, acknowledging that Turkish investigators had officially told them Khashoggi was killed in a pre-meditated attack, rather than the fist-fight that Riyadh had previously claimed.
Ankara has adopted a careful strategy towards an alleged murder on its soil by a regional rival.
Having said little in public in the first weeks after the journalist’s disappearance, Mr Erdogan used a speech last week to implicitly accuse the crown prince and effective Saudi day-to-day ruler of ordering the killing. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018