Turkish prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged 20 suspects including two former top aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the 2018 murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Prosecutors accuse Saudi Arabia's deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court's media czar Saud al-Qahtani of leading the operation, and giving orders to a Saudi hit team.
Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Riyadh has described the murder as a "rogue" operation, but both the CIA and a United Nations special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.ALSO READ: Amazon's $1 bn deal with Saudi stalled after Khashoggi's killing: Report Turkey carried out its own investigation into the murder after being unhappy with Saudi explanations. The Istanbul prosecutor's office said in a statement that Assiri and Qahtani were charged with "instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment". Eighteen other suspects -- including intelligence operative Maher Mutreb who frequently travelled with the crown prince on foreign tours, forensic expert Salah al-Tubaigy and Fahad al-Balawi, a member of the Saudi royal guard -- were also charged with "deliberately and monstrously killing, causing torment". They face life in jail if convicted.
Mutreb, Tubaigy and Balawi had been among 11 on trial in Riyadh, during which sources said many of those accused defended themselves by saying they were carrying out Assiri's orders, describing him as the operation's "ringleader".