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Erdogan Says Order To Kill Khashoggi Was From ‘Highest Levels’ Of Saudi Government

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the order to kill Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi "came from the highest levels of the Saudi government," but he said he did not believe the king himself was involved.

The Turkish leader wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on November 2 that his country had "moved heaven and earth" to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the killing of the journalist inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

"As a result," he wrote, "the world has learned that Khashoggi was killed in cold blood by a death squad, and it has been established that his murder was premeditated."

Riyadh denies the ruling royal family was involved in the killing and blames it on "rogue" agents. But suspicion has surrounded its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, with many of the 18 people detained in the case identified as having ties to the prince.

"We...know that those individuals came to carry out their orders: Kill Khashoggi and leave. Finally, we know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government," Erdogan wrote.

But, he added, "I do not believe for a second that King Salman, the custodian of the holy mosques, ordered the hit on Khashoggi."

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and an outspoken critic of the crown prince, went missing on October 2 after visiting the Saudi Consulate to complete paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.

Istanbul's chief prosecutor has said Khashoggi was strangled and his body "cut into pieces" in a premeditated killing immediately upon entering the building.