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Turkey probes Khashoggi link after arresting suspected UAE spies

A demonstrator holds a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Ankara, Turkey Apr 19, 2019, 06.35 PM (IST)

Turkey has arrested two intelligence operatives who confessed to spying on Arab nationals for the United Arab Emirates, and it is probing whether the arrival in Turkey of one of them was related to Jamal Khashoggi's murder, a senior Turkish official said on Friday.

One of the two men arrived in Turkey in October 2018, days after Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, the official said, adding the other arrived to help his colleague with the workload.

"We are investigating whether the primary individual's arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder," said the official, adding the person has been monitored for the past six months.

"It is possible that there was an attempt to collect information about Arabs, including political dissidents, living in Turkey."

The arrests were made in Istanbul on Monday as part of a counter-intelligence investigation. Turkish officials seized an encrypted computer located in a hidden compartment at what the official told Reuters was the spy ring's base.

The official, who requested anonymity, said statements by the detained men suggested their intelligence operation targeted political exiles and students.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, provoking an international outcry.

The CIA and some Western countries believe the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny. The Saudi public prosecutor has indicted 11 unidentified suspects, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.

Story highlights

'We are investigating whether the primary individual's arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder,' a senior Turkish official said, adding the person has been monitored for the past six months.