At the fourth anniversary of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul, Turkey was criticised for closing the murder case and handing the investigation to Saudi Arabia.
“Today is the anniversary of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi on our land. They returned the file of this case to those [in Saudi Arabia] who slaughtered Khashoggi alive in Turkey … . We will not forget those who brought this shame to Turkey!,” Yunus Emre, a Turkish lawmaker with the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé, also shared her dismay. “He was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul four years ago today. His killers are still free. We still don’t know where his body is,” Cengiz wrote on Twitter.
Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he visited the building to arrange his marriage papers in 2018.
Hanan El Khashoggi, the first wife of the murdered journalist, urged the Turkish authorities to hand over any evidence to her.
“The Turkish government has been clear that it does not intend to proceed with either the investigation into my husband’s murder or the trial. It should therefore hand over any evidence still in its hands to me. As the only wife of Jamal upon his death, I want all parties to be held accountable for my husband’s murder,” El Khashoggi wrote on Sunday in an opinion article in the UK Guardian.
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a senior human rights activist and a lawmaker with pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, said that they will continue to protest over the Turkish government’s decision to hand the case over to Saudi Arabia.
“Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate and his file was given to the Saudi Arabian authorities – unbelievably. Liver was delivered to the cat – and we absolutely do not accept this, and will protest here every week,” Gergerlioglu said in the Turkish parliament on Friday.
Reporters Without Borders, RSF, also condemned the actions of both Turkey and Saudi Arabia and said such crimes against journalists should not be tolerated.
“Since Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination in 2018 and the subsequent botched trials of his killers in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, it has become clear that no accountability will be achieved in these countries,” the Middle East Desk at RSF said.
“Other prosecution and accountability mechanisms are more urgent than ever. This is why RSF is pursuing new avenues of legal recourse in other jurisdictions, to ensure justice for Khashoggi but also a clear signal that impunity for such heinous crimes against journalists will not be tolerated anywhere,” it added.
Turkey previously took a tougher stance on the Khashoggi case. But a change in tone came when Turkey wanted to repair relations with Saudi Arabia.
According to some observers, Saudi Arabia’s precondition for this improvement in ties was transfer of the Khashoggi case.
In 2019, a Saudi court sentenced five men to death and three to different prison terms for Khashoggi’s murder but the death sentences were later commuted to prison terms after Khashoggi’s son pardoned his father’s murderers.
Since the murder and international outcry, Saudi authorities have claimed that Khashoggi was killed by a rogue execution team without the knowledge of top Saudi officials – a claim dismissed by experts and human rights organisations.