A dear companion of Jamal Khashoggi told a Turkish court on Tuesday that the killed Saudi columnist felt compromised by individuals near Crown Prince Mohammed container Salman.
The primary court in Istanbul held a second hearing in the preliminary in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects in the Washington Post writer’s prominent homicide — including two previous associates to the ground-breaking Saudi crown ruler.
The 59-year-old was suffocated and dissected inside the realm’s Istanbul office on October 2, 2018, in the wake of going inside to get records for his union with Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
The murder sparked an international outcry and tarnished the reputation of the oil-rich kingdom and the crown prince.
The Turkish trial is being held separately from a Saudi one that overturned five death sentences issued after a closed-door hearing in September.
The Riyadh court instead jailed eight unidentified people for terms ranging from seven to 20 years in what Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) both called a “parody of justice”.
Turkish prosecutors have charged Saudi’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s one-time media czar Saud al-Qahtani with orchestrating the murder and giving direct orders to a Saudi hit team.
Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political dissident and longtime friend of Khashoggi, told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar.
“Jamal said he had been compromised by Qahtani and his family,” Turkish media cited Nour as telling the court.
“Nour said Khashoggi had announced being compromised by Saud al-Qahtani since 2016,” Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) independently tweeted from the court.
“Khashoggi discussed a call from Qahtani when he was living in Washington DC, saying he knew his children and where they lived. Nour said Khashoggi was crying, which was abnormal, and said he was apprehensive.”
‘Most elevated levels’
Khashoggi’s fiancee Cengiz additionally went to Tuesday’s hearing, which was suspended to March 4.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the request to kill Khashoggi came from “the most elevated levels” of the Saudi government yet has never legitimately accused Prince Mohammed.
Relations between the two nations endured in the wake of Khashoggi’s passing.
But Erdogan discussed ways to enhance ties with the prince’s ageing father King Salman on the eve of last weekend’s virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish trial is monitored closely by human rights advocates.
Vincent said the Istanbul court rejected RSF’s application to become a civil party in the Khashoggi’s case.
This would have given the Paris-based group broader access to court documents.
“We were disappointed,” Vincent told AFP, calling it “a missed opportunity to ensure robust international scrutiny.”
“But regardless we will continue to closely monitor this case and call for adherence to international standards,” she said.