The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on Saudi Arabia to disclose the location of the body of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and identify the “local collaborator” whom Saudi authorities say disposed of his remains.
The 18 men arrested in the kingdom over the case “must know” who killed the journalist and where his remains were taken, Erdoğan said in parliament on Friday, adding that the person who “gave the orders” for the assassination must be bought to justice.
The call comes after the president and the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke for the first time on Wednesday about co-operating in the evolving diplomatic crisis.
Erdoğan has used the case to exert pressure on his Saudi rival, whom many believe must at a minimum have been aware of the operation, which involved several members of his personal guard and other senior, trusted officials.
Riyadh has gone to great lengths to insulate Prince Mohammed from any responsibility for the case.
After three weeks of shifting stories on what happened to the dissident Saudi writer when he attended a consulate appointment in Istanbul earlier this month, Saudi Arabia said for the first time on Thursday the investigation’s evidence points to a “premeditated” killing.
Riyadh had previously said that Khashoggi accidentally died during a fight with Saudi officials carrying out a rogue extradition operation, and that his body was rolled up in a rug and disposed of by an unidentified third party.
Turkish investigators allege that Khashoggi was tortured before his death and his body dismembered with a bone saw.
“These childish statements are not compatible with the seriousness of a [nation] state,” Erdoğan said on Friday, in a reference to the lines coming out of Saudi Arabia.
Police have focused the search for the journalist’s remains on a well in the garden of the nearby consul general’s residence and and woodland areas outside the city, but there have been no leads in the case so far.
There are several avenues of investigation which have yet to be explored, Erdoğan added.
Riyadh is sending the Saudi public prosecutor to Istanbul on Sunday to assist the investigation.
On Thursday it emerged that Khashoggi’s eldest son had left Saudi Arabia for the US. Salah Khashoggi, who holds dual Saudi-US citizenship, has been barred from travelling outside the kingdom in recent months. Earlier in the week he was summoned to receive condolences from the crown prince.