Turkey is taking a back seat in the investigation of Jamal Khashoggi's murder, letting the United Nations delegation — headed by the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard — take the lead.
Why it matters: The UN delegation arrived in Turkey on Monday. After meeting Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Callamard and her team of legal and forensic experts headed straight to Istanbul, where they ran into their first roadblock. After meeting with Istanbul's chief public prosecutor for four hours, the delegation went to the consulate where Khashoggi was killed, only to be denied access by Saudi officials on Tuesday. They were able to scout the vicinity of the compound, however.
A spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party promptly declared the Saudi obstruction to be a "scandal" and reiterated Turkey’s call for an international investigation. The Turkish presidency and Foreign Ministry, however, have yet to comment, giving the impression that Turkish authorities seek to allow the UN to conduct its business without further escalating tensions — at least for now.
“We welcome @AgnesCallamard's visit to Turkey in relation to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We still do not know where Khashoggi's body is, who ordered the hit and who the 'local collaborator' was,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director of the Turkish presidency, tweeted Tuesday.
Callamard also seems to want to avoid a confrontation. “The request to the Saudi Consulate came quite late, so we need to give them a bit more time to process our request," she said.
What’s next: The delegation is scheduled to stay in Turkey until Feb. 2 and plans to meet with other people important to the case. Callamard has also sought permission to visit Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports. She is expected to present her findings to the UN Human Rights Council in June.
Know more: Read Al-Monitor contributor Giorgio Cafiero’s analysis of Saudi authorities’ stance. And don't miss Al-Monitor columnist Bruce Riedel’s article on the murder's impact on the kingdom’s stability.
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