Riyadh rejects Ankara's extradition demands for 18 suspects in Khashoggi case

In this Oct. 18, 2018 file photo, a Turkish forensic officer arrives at the Saudi consulate, in Istanbul. (AP photo)

The Saudi authorities rejected on Saturday Turkey's demand to extradite the 18 Saudi national suspects for their involvement in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2 in Istanbul. "On the issue of extradition, the individuals are Saudi nationals. They are detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Saturday while attending a conference in Bahrain. Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on Friday that an extradition request was submitted to Riyadh for the 18 suspects believed to be involved in the killing of Khashoggi, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week was "premeditated."

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post has been missing since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to marriage on Oct. 2. The journalist is said to have been murdered in the consulate.

Al-Jubeir said that the media reaction to Khashoggi's death amounted to "hysteria," adding, "Investigations take time and facts get determined as the investigation goes on."

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Saudis have changed their statements more than once. First, they claimed that Khashoggi was still alive and had already left the consulate. Then they accepted that he was killed but said that it was as a result of a fistfight.

The latest statement came on Thursday that Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor said that the suspects in the murder of Khashoggi acted intentionally. Subsequently, Riyadh has arrested 18 people over their suspected involvement in a brawl inside the consulate.

However, Turkey is conducting its own parallel investigation into the murder to shed light on the issue, while many Western countries have called on Saudi Arabia to provide greater transparency, indicating that many areas of the case remain unclear.

Following the summit on Syria on Saturday, Erdoğan underscored that Turkey has shared the results of its investigation into the murder of the Khashoggi with other leaders in attendance. Erdoğan reiterated his calls to Saudi Arabia to make public the individuals that gave the order to send the 18 suspects. The Turkish president also highlighted that Turkey expects Saudi Arabia to provide information on local accomplices that the perpetrators gave Khashoggi's body to.

A Saudi prosecutor was expected to arrive in Istanbul yesterday to meet his Turkish counterpart on the case.

"I care about the outcome of this meeting. In this process, our law enforcement agency, as well as the intelligence organization and the judiciary organization are all working intensively. These studies have not ended. This work is still going on," Erdoğan said on Saturday.

In relation to the murder of Khashoggi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, present in Istanbul for the summit, said the European Union might make a joint decision to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the murder of Khashoggi.

"We agreed that when we have more clarity, and we are counting on that when we know who was behind this then we will try to find a unified European solution or reaction from all member states of the European Union to show that we negotiate on the basis of common values," Merkel stressed.

"The investigation has to go to the end. Sanctions related to these issues need to be taken. They need to be consistent and complete," French President Emmanuel Macron said during the joint press conference with Erdoğan, Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On the issue, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis announced on Saturday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revoked some Saudi visas and "will be taking additional measures" soon. Saudi Arabia has promised a "full" investigation into the killing of journalist Khashoggi, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday following talks with the Saudi foreign minister in Bahrain.

"We discussed it... the need for transparency, full and complete investigation. Full agreement from Foreign Minister Jubeir, no reservations at all," Mattis told reporters following the talks, during which he warned the Saudi kingdom that the murder attributed to the Saudi authorities risked destabilizing the region.

"No reservations at all. He [Jubeir] said we need to know what happened and it was very collaborative, in agreement," the Pentagon chief told reporters on a flight from Manama to Prague where he will mark the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. U.S. President Donald Trump described the Saudi explanation for the Khashoggi murder as the worst cover-up ever. He added that he was not satisfied with the Saudis' explanation over the death of Khashoggi, saying further that allowing one month to Riyadh for an investigation is too long.

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