Ankara, Oct 18 (IANS) A Turkish daily reported on Thursday that one of the suspects involved in the disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a “suspicious car accident” in Riyadh while investigators here expanded their probe in the case to include at least two wooded areas outside Istanbul.
Mashal Saad al-Bostani, a 31-year-old lieutenant of the Saudi Royal Air Force, was among the 15 suspects who arrived and left Turkey on October 2 after going to Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate where Khashoggi was last seen, Hurriyet Daily News quoted the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak as saying in the report.
The newspaper said sources did not release any details about the traffic accident in Riyadh and Bostani’s role in the “murder” was not yet clear.
Hurriyet Daily News has also claimed that Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi could be “the next execution” as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman “would do anything to get rid of evidence”.
Yeni Safak had reported on Wednesday that Al-Otaibi’s voice could be heard in one of the recordings, which Turkish authorities believed to be of Khashoggi’s “interrogation” at the consulate.
Al-Otaibi returned to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday before his residence in Istanbul was searched by the police on Wednesday and Thursday.
Turkey has not formally released any evidence to support claims that a team of Saudi agents killed Khashoggi.
According to the Turkish media, the police will begin reviewing security footage from the entrances to Istanbul’s Belgrad Forest and also expect to search farmland in Yalova province.
A Turkish official said that investigators had broadened their search for Khashoggi’s body to “gardens” around the Istanbul area.
One of the vans carrying some members of the Saudi “hit squad” was reportedly filmed in Yalova’s Termal district on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul in an interview to state-run Anadolu Agency said that the case was being “thoroughly” investigated and “results were expected to come out soon”.
In his last column for the Washington Post, Khashoggi said: “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.”
“The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power,” he added.
Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and UK’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox cancelled their plan to attend an upcoming business conference in Saudi Arabia amid allegations the country was behind the apparent killing.
The Dutch Finance Minister as well as several other politicians and business leaders also announced pulling out of the event.
Over the past week, many corporates and media houses have announced their decision to shun the Saudi tech summit. Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC and the Financial Times have withdrawn themselves for attending the forum.
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, former AOL CEO and venture capitalist Steve Case, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, and Google Android creator Andy Rubin also withdrew.
Turkey has claimed it is in possession of audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate building, but Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied it.
US President Donald Trump urged the Turkish government to share the recording. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later visited Saudi Arabia and then Turkey to discuss the case. But, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Pompeo did not listen to any audio recording while he was in Ankara.
Meanwhile, another Turkish daily, Sabah, on Thursday released stills from security camera footage of another suspect — 47-year-old Maher Abdulaziz M. Mutreb, an intelligence officer who previously served in Saudi Arabia’s London Embassy.
The New York Times had reported that Mutreb had travelled extensively with the Crown Prince, perhaps as a bodyguard.