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Saudis sent experts to remove evidence of Khashoggi's killing, Turkey says
[ISTANBUL] More than a week after Saudi agents killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia sent an expert team to clean up evidence of the crime, under the guise of helping with the investigation, a senior Turkish official said Monday - the latest twist in a case that has caused an international uproar.
A pro-government newspaper, Sabah, published news of the Saudi cleanup team and photographs of two of its members, whom it identified as a chemist and a toxicologist, who visited the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was killed.
The senior Turkish official confirmed the main details of the report and said the Saudi team was sent with the knowledge of top Saudi officials. The two men traveled to Turkey for the sole purpose of covering up evidence of the killing before Turkish police were allowed to search the premises, the official said.
The two men were part of a team of Saudi investigators who spent several days in Turkey visiting the consulate and the consul's residence, ostensibly to help with the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, the newspaper reported.
The cleanup team arrived in Istanbul on Oct 11, nine days after Khashoggi's death, and visited the consulate every day from Oct 12 to Oct 17, according to Sabah. Turkish investigators were not allowed into the consulate, which is considered Saudi sovereign territory, until Oct 15. Sabah published photographs of the two men emerging from the entrance of the consulate and also published photographs that the newspaper's investigative editor, Abdurrahman Simsek, said were head shots from cameras at airport passport control.
The men arrived on the same day as a Saudi delegation that met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct 11, as Turkish officials demanded to know what had happened to Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who lived in the United States and wrote opinion articles for The Washington Post. He had entered the consulate Oct 2 for a prearranged meeting to collect papers that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancé and was never seen again.