Erdoğan says unaware of intelligence chief’s briefing to some US senators

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul on Friday that he was not informed about a meeting between Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), and some US senators to discuss the October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in İstanbul,

The  Al-Monitor news website reported the briefing on Thursday.

“The MİT chief left for Canada after our trip to Latin America. There might have been such a development,” Erdoğan said regarding Fidan’s reported meeting with some US senators. “I’m not aware of such a briefing, but I know about his trip to Canada.”

A Senate Intelligence Committee aide confirmed the Turkish media accounts but did not specify whom Fidan met with or what they discussed. Notably, the Turks have a recording of Khashoggi’s grisly murder at the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of the Saudi government, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman.

Earlier this week, US senators emerged from a classified briefing by CIA Director Haspel saying they were certain the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of Khashoggi.

“If the crown prince went in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told journalists immediately after the Haspel briefing.

Turkish authorities — who say Khashoggi was murdered by a hit squad sent from Riyadh — are still searching for the journalist’s remains. Earlier this month, the chief public prosecutor’s office said Khashoggi’s body was dismembered after he was strangled, while The Washington Post reported investigators were looking into the theory that the body was dissolved in acid. A source close to the Saudi royal palace has denied any knowledge of the body’s whereabouts.

Saudi Arabia has presented an evolving narrative about what happened to Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, when he entered the consulate to get papers for his wedding. Authorities initially denied all knowledge of his fate before later admitting that a group of rogue operators, many part of Prince Mohammed’s inner circle, were responsible. Riyadh has maintained that neither Mohammed nor his father, King Salman, knew of the operation targeting Khashoggi.

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