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Turkey seeks arrest of MbS henchmen Saud al-Qahtani, Ahmad al-Assiri over Khashoggi murder Open in fullscreen

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Turkey seeks arrest of MbS henchmen Saud al-Qahtani, Ahmad al-Assiri over Khashoggi murder

An Istanbul prosecutor is seeking the arrest of two top Saudi officials. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2018

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The chief prosecutor's office in Istanbul filed an application to obtain arrest warrants for Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, described as being "among the planners" of Khashoggi's murder.
A Turkish prosecutor has demanded that arrest warrants be issued against two senior Saudi officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The chief prosecutor's office in Istanbul filed an application Tuesday to obtain the warrants for Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, described in court documents as being "among the planners" of the murder of the Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, a Turkish high-level source close to the investigation said Wednesday.

The senior Turkish official told Reuters the prosecutor's move "reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won't take formal action against those individuals".

The official, who did not wish to be named, pointed to the fact that the wording of the prosecutor's request suggested that the current list wasn't necessarily exhaustive, appearing to indicate that more arrest warrants could be sought.

In October, Qahtani was sacked with deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri - in a move that has widely been seen as an attempt to scapegoat the officials and cover up Prince Mohammed's likely role in Khashoggi's murder.

Dubbed the "Saudi Steve Bannon", Qahtani was a brutal media enforcer for Mohammed bin Salman, masterminding the arrest of hundreds of the country's elite and orchestrating the detention of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

According to intelligence sources, Qahtani ran the brutal killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate via Skype.

A Turkish intelligence source told Reuters in October that Qahtani told his men to dispose of Khashoggi. "Bring me the head of the dog", the Turkish intelligence source says Qahtani instructed.

Writing for the Washington Post earlier this year, Khashoggi alleged Qahtani maintained a "blacklist" for writers critical of the kingdom and was known to intimidate them.

Assiri, said to be in his 60s, was a high-ranking advisor close to the royal court and often sat in during Prince Mohammed's closed-door meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries. 

Prior to his promotion as the deputy head of general intelligence in 2017, Assiri served as the spokesman for the Saudi-led military alliance in Yemen which has been battling Houthi rebels since March 2015.

Agencies contributed to this report

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