Turkey seeks explanation from Saudis after journalist detained over alleged Khashoggi remarks / REUTERS

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Turkey is seeking an explanation from Saudi Arabia after Saudi police detained a Turkish journalist over alleged comments he made about the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish diplomatic source said.

Reuters, July 11, 2024

Kurtulus Demirbas was taken into custody last week in the Saudi city of Taif, where he had been covering Turkey’s U19 football team, over alleged remarks about Khashoggi’s killing, the private Anka news agency and other Turkish media reported.

It was not immediately clear what Demirbas said about Khahoggi’s murder or how and where he did so.

Turkey’s foreign ministry was informed of the incident on Monday and immediately asked Saudi authorities for information, the source said, adding Ankara was closely following the issue and regularly informing Demirbas’ family.

On Wednesday evening, the same diplomatic source – who asked not to be further identified due to political sensitivities – said Turkey’s consul general in Riyadh would visit Demirbas where he was being held, but gave no further details.

The Turkish foreign ministry declined to comment further.

Khashoggi’s murder at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018 significantly damaged Turkey-Saudi ties, with Ankara at the time accusing top Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of having orchestrated the killing.

However, ties between the two Middle East powers have improved since 2021 after Turkey dropped accusations of Saudi state involvement in the murder as part of a charm offensive to repair relations with estranged rivals, including Riyadh.

U.S. intelligence concluded in 2021 that the crown prince approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince and has maintained that Khashoggi’s killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group.

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