Khashoggi killing: More than 100 writers, artists call on UN to probe killing; Erdogan says order for kill came from ‘highest levels of Saudi govt’

More than 100 artists, writers and activists among whom included prominent names like Meryl Streep, JK Rowling and Zadie Smith signed an open letter urging the United Nations to launch an independent investigation into Saudi dissident journalist’s killing, Jamal Khashoggi, Al Jazeera reported.

Khashoggi entered the building on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.

Saudi Arabia has admitted that the Saudi critic died in a premeditated murder inside its Istanbul consulate – after weeks of consistent denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance.

ALSO READ: UN experts note ‘toxic nature of political incitement against journalists’, demand transparent investigation into Khashoggi’s killing

Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.

The open letter was addressed to UN Secretary General, Antonio Gueterres and came on the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists. It was put together by Pen America, a non-profit aimed at defending freedom of expression.

“The violent murder of a prominent journalist and commentator on foreign soil is a grave violation of human rights and a disturbing escalation of the crackdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia, whose government in recent years has jailed numerous writers, journalists, human rights advocates and lawyers in a sweeping assault on free expression and association,” reads the letter.

“The murder of a journalist inside a diplomatic facility would constitute nothing less than an act of state terror intended to intimidate journalists, dissidents and exiled critics the world over,” the letter reads.

ALSO READ: Crimes against Journalists: Who was Jamal Khashoggi and what his killing means for press freedom

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post Friday said the order for Khashoggi’s killing came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government. However, he said he did not believe King Salman ordered the hit.

Erdogan said, “We must reveal the identities of the puppet masters behind Khashoggi’s killing”. He added that Turkey has “moved heaven and earth” to bring the truth to light. We are shocked and saddened by the efforts of certain Saudi officials to cover up Khashoggi’s premeditated murder, rather than serve the cause of justice, as our friendship would require.”

He criticized Saudi Arabia’s consul general and the kingdom’s public prosecutor who recently met with Turkish officials, but later adopted a more conciliatory tone, stressing that Turkey and Saudi Arabia continued to enjoy friendly relations and that he had “no reasons to believe that this murder reflected Saudi Arabia’s official policy”.

The Turkish president again expressed dismay that Saudi Arabia has still not revealed who ordered the assassination, along with the location of Khashoggi’s remains or the identity of the attackers’ local collaborator.

ALSO READ: Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor holds talks with Turkish intelligence officials, French FM says ‘haven’t ruled out sanctions against Saudi’

“Some seem to hope this “problem” will go away in time. But we will keep asking those questions, which are crucial to the criminal investigation in Turkey, but also to Khashoggi’s family and loved ones,” Erdogan said.

Moreover, an adviser to Erdogan has said the team that killed Khashoggi cut up his body in order to dissolve for easier disposal.

Yasin Aktay, who was a friend of Khashoggi’s, told Hurriyet newspaper that the corpse was disposed of by dismembering and dissolving it.

“We now see that it wasn’t just cut up, they got rid of the body by dissolving it,” he said.

ALSO READ: Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor visits Istanbul consulate, 18 suspects’ testimonies handed to Turkish officials

“According to the latest information we have, the reason they dismembered his body is to dissolve it easier,” added Aktay. “They aimed to ensure no sign of the body was left.”

Meanwhile, a senior Turkish official, cited by AJ said that the journalist’s body was dismembered and dissolved in acid.

The official also said that the Saudi hit squad that carried out the killing has done similar operations before.

Earlier, a Turkish official had also told the Washington Post that authorities were investigating a theory the body was destroyed in acid.

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