Turkish-Saudi team completes search at Saudi consul's residence - UPDATED

  18 October 2018    Read: 1154
Turkish-Saudi team completes search at Saudi consul

The Turkish-Saudi joint search into the disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi was completed Thursday.

All officials from the joint investigation team have left the area after searching the Saudi consul general's official residence as well as the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene.

Crime scene investigation units arrived at the Istanbul residence of Mohammad al-Otaibi around 4:40 p.m. local time (1340 GMT). Al-Otaibi left Turkey for Riyadh on Tuesday.

The Turkish team concluded its search for evidence in nine hours and left but returned to the Saudi consulate to continue searching the premises.

Earlier in the day, a group of Saudi officials arrived at the Saudi consul general's residence to take part in the joint probe with Turkish investigators into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Khashoggi has long been feared killed after he entered the Saudi Consulate building in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and was never seen leaving.

On the same day, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while Khashoggi was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.



Turkish investigators searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul overnight as part of a probe into Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, while U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not want to abandon his Saudi ally over the missing journalist.

The crime scene team left the Saudi consulate early on Thursday after searching the building and consular vehicles, a Reuters witness said. They used bright lights to illuminate the garden, although it was unclear what they were doing.

Earlier, investigators spent nearly nine hours in the Saudi consul’s residence before leaving, as did Saudi investigators. The search by the Turkish team included the roof and garage and the deployment of a drone over the area.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of the authoritarian kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and his body removed.

The Saudis have denied the allegations.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was waiting for a full report on what had happened to Khashoggi from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom he sent to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to meet officials over Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump and Pompeo are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday.

Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old crown prince, said the United States has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence.

Turkish sources have told Reuters the authorities have an audio recording indicating Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. He has not been seen since entering the building.

Turkey’s pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper published on Wednesday what it said were details from audio recordings that purported to document Khashoggi’s torture and interrogation.

The newspaper said Khashoggi was killed within minutes and his torturers severed his fingers during the interrogation. His killers later beheaded and dismembered him, it said.

Turkey has not shared with the U.S. government or European allies graphic audio or video evidence, seven U.S. and European security officials told Reuters. The United States and allies have collected some intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the sources said.

A New York Times report cited a senior Turkish official confirming the details published by Yeni Safak. Two Turkish government officials contacted by Reuters declined to confirm the report.

U.S. media outlets have reported that Riyadh, despite its earlier denials of involvement, will acknowledge that Khashoggi was killed in a botched interrogation. Trump has speculated without providing evidence that “rogue killers” could be responsible.

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