Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Tuesday that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “ferocious” and “planned.”
What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2 in Istanbul, to finalize his divorce so he could marry his fiancée. He was never seen again. As a columnist for the Washington Post, Khashoggi had frequently criticized the Saudi government and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
After initially insisting that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, the Saudi government has not admitted that he was killed, although it continues to claim that his death was unintentional. On Monday, CNN released footage supplied by the Turkish government that showed the Saudis had a body double leave the consulate dressed in Khashoggi's clothes after he had disappeared.
What did Erdogan say?
Speaking to his political party members in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Erdogan said, according to the Post, that “covering up this kind of savagery will hurt the conscience of all humanity.”
“Saudi Arabia took an important step by accepting the murder. After this, we expect them to reveal those responsible for this matter. We have information that the murder is not instant, but planned,” he said.
He also said that “the information obtained so far and the evidence found shows that Khashoggi was murdered in a ferocious manner.”
Erdogan and his government have still not released the audio evidence they claim to have of Khashoggi's murder. Erdogan did not even mention this recording in his recent speech, despite listing other examples of evidence that his government had put forward to incriminate the Saudis.
Don't be fooled into thinking Erdogan is pro-freedom of the media
He may appear to be more forthcoming than the Saudis when it comes to Khashoggi's disappearance, but Erdogan is also brutally crushing his opposition and trampling on the press.
In fact, according to the nonprofit group, Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey has a far worse track record when it comes to journalists than Saudi Arabia. CPJ reported that 262 journalists were jailed worldwide on Dec. 1, 2017 — 73 of which were imprisoned by Erdogan's government. Comparatively, CPJ reported that only seven journalists were jailed in Saudi Arabia at that time.
Erdogan has also jailed more than 50,000 people accused of being involved in some way with the failed 2016 coup against his rule. This was the reason given for the jailing of pastor Andrew Brunson, who was only released recently after pressure from the United States. Brunson and his allies have insisted that he never had anything to do with that coup, or anything political.
While Erdogan is no friend of the media or his critics, he also is no friend of Saudi Arabia. He has been quick to declare that a great injustice has been done in Khashoggi's murder, which is true, not because he's standing on some moral high ground but because it inconveniences the Saudis and gives his government back some of the standing on the global stage that it had lost in recent years.