Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan published an opinion piece in the Washington Post Friday attacking Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Turkey has the odious distinction of jailing more journalists than any other nation, according to most estimates, as Erdogan’s critics have found themselves accused of "terrorism" and thrown in jail. Nevertheless, he was given space in the Post to target Saudi Arabia and tout his own country’s efforts in the "cause of justice" for Khashoggi, who wrote for the Post.
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"Turkey has moved heaven and earth to shed light on all aspects of this case," Erdogan wrote.
He was careful not to denounce Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, and he said Turkey’s relationship with the Saudis are friendly. He did not mention the crown prince but did say he trusted that his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, did not "order the hit on Khashoggi."
"Who gave the order to kill this kind soul?" Erdogan asks, arguing that the Saudis must be more cooperative in the investigation and provide Khashoggi’s remains.
This kind of sympathy for journalists has not applied to the well over 100 journalists the Turks have jailed while Erdogan has been in power. Journalists critical of Erdogan have been charged with being a "terrorist" organization, and as happened with the opposition Cumhuriyet daily paper earlier this year.
"No penalty can stop us from doing journalism. If needed, we will go to prison again but we will continue to do honest and honourable journalism," Cumhuriyet editor in chief Murat Sabuncu said after receiving a sentence of seven years and six months.
Nevertheless, Erdogan lambasted the Saudis for trying to avoid responsibility for Khashoggi's death.
"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.
"I must add that our friendship with Riyadh, which goes back a long time, doesn’t mean we will turn a blind eye to the premeditated murder that unfolded in front of our very eyes," he said.
"This is another reason we were 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."
Erdogan finished by comparing Khashoggi’s death to the 9/11 terror attacks and Watergate.
"The murder of Jamal Khashoggi involves a lot more than a group of security officials, just as the Watergate scandal was bigger than a break-in and the 9/11 terror attacks went beyond the hijackers. As responsible members of the international community, we must reveal the identities of the puppetmasters behind Khashoggi’s killing and discover those in whom Saudi officials — still trying to cover up the murder — have placed their trust," Erdogan wrote.