The body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been dissolved in acid after he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told a Turkish newspaper this week.
The adviser, Yasin Aktay, said that’s why the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident, was cut into pieces. Khashoggi disappeared shortly after entering the consulate Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his planned marriage, with Saudi officials giving shifting explanations for his death.
“According to the latest information we have, the reason they dismembered his body is to dissolve it easier,” Aktay said in a statement to the Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters and the BBC reported Friday.
The statement bolsters a report by The Washington Post on Wednesday that authorities believed Khashoggi’s body may have been dismembered and immersed in acid ― either at the consulate or nearby, possibly in a well.
“Khashoggi’s body was not in need of burying,” said a senior Turkish official, who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity.
The official said investigators do not believe Saudi Arabia’s official story on what happened to the body. Saudi officials have acknowledged that Kashoggi was killed in the consulate on Oct. 2, but say the assailants gave the remains to a third party.
Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, Irfan Fidan, said this week that Khashoggi was immediately strangled when he arrived at the consulate. Earlier Turkish media reports said audio recordings captured Khashoggi being tortured before his death.
Fidan demanded on Wednesday that Saudi officials reveal the location of the body.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, on Friday pleaded for the remains to be returned for proper burial.
“Even though a month has passed since Jamal’s murder, his body has still not been given to his loved ones,” Cengiz said during a Washington memorial service for her would-be husband. She again called on President Donald Trump to support Turkish officials’ efforts to uncover Khashoggi’s remains.
Saudi Arabia’s story on what happened to Khashoggi has evolved from blanket denial of any involvement to a claim that “rogue” operatives carried out a mission to kill him ― supposedly without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia faces sharp criticism from the international community in the wake of the death. Amid souring relations, the U.S. and U.K. are calling for a cease-fire in the kingdom’s sometimes overlooked war with Yemen, which faces an enormous humanitarian crisis.