A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for two suspects close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, raising pressure on the kingdom’s de facto leader after two US senators accused him of ordering the hit.
Saudi Arabia has sought to distance Prince Mohammed from the murder and has received support from the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has downplayed possible links between the crown prince and what happened to Khashoggi.
But two key senators from Trump’s own Republican party said Tuesday that a briefing by the CIA’s director had strengthened their conviction that Prince Mohammed directed the murder.
Khashoggi, a Saudi contributor to the Washington Post, 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 on Tuesday to obtain the warrants for Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, described in court documents as being “among the planners” of Khashoggi’s grisly killing.
Then on Wednesday, an Istanbul court issued the arrest warrants for Assiri and Qahtani on the charge of “deliberately killing (someone) with monstrous feeling or causing torment”, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Assiri, the former deputy head of general intelligence, often sat in during Prince Mohammed’s closed-door meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries, while Qahtani was a key counsellor to the crown prince.
Both were sacked after Riyadh admitted Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate.