Saudi Arabia ‘secretly’ sells consulate building where Khashoggi was murdered
Saudi Arabia has secretly sold its Istanbul consulate where the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was savagely murdered in early October last year in search of a new location for its Turkey mission.
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Turkey's pro-administration English-language daily Daily Sabah, citing a report published by Turkish-language Habertürk television news network, reported on Tuesday that the four-story building, which is located in the upscale neighborhood of Levent, was hastily sold to an undeclared buyer 45 days ago for nearly one-third of the market price so that the consulate could exit as soon as possible.
The report added that the consulate will accordingly be moving to a location near the US consulate building in Istinye neighborhood in Sariyer district.
A Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye that they didn't have any information confirming the sale.
The Saudi Arabian government would have needed to seek permission from the foreign ministry for the sale and the reason would be security, Habertürk's report said.
“The Saudi security team who visited Turkey immediately after the Khashoggi murder had prepared a technical report that said they couldn’t discover all the bugs in the consulate and therefore a new building was needed,” the report said.
“The Saudis are also trying to sell the consul general’s official residence, which is located very close to the consulate. But they couldn’t find any buyer yet,” it added.
According to Turkish legal experts, the consulate building is still considered a crime scene and the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office might seal off the building until their investigation is concluded.
The report comes just two weeks ahead of the first anniversary of Khashoggi's killing, which is widely believed to have been ordered by the Saudi crown prince and de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of bin Salman, was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November last year that the CIA had concluded that the Saudi crown prince personally ordered the killing. Riyadh strongly denies the allegation.
Saudi officials spurned all the allegations linking the killing to bin Salman, and instead claimed that the murder was carried out by a “rogue” group.