Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intensified the pressure on Saudi Arabia in a speech Friday, demanding that the kingdom reveal the location of the remains of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and suggesting that Turkey has additional "information and documents" about the killing that it would eventually reveal.
Erdogan also repeated his call on Saudi Arabia to hand over the 18 people it has arrested in the case if the country's authorities could not "make them talk." Later in the day, the semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported that Turkish prosecutors were set to "demand" the extradition of those suspects.
"Hand them over to us," Erdogan said. "The event took place in Istanbul. We will judge them."
A senior Turkish official said that Turkey was requesting the extradition because Khashoggi was murdered by Saudis who traveled to Turkey, and because it was "clear that the judicial system in Turkey is better equipped to genuinely serve the cause of justice in this case."
Erdogan's comments to ruling party officials in Ankara marked Turkey's latest attempt to press Saudi Arabia on a crime that has drawn global condemnation and has prompted countries to re evaluate their ties with the Middle East power.
U.S. and foreign officials say such an operation - involving a team of Saudi agents - was unlikely to have taken place without the knowledge of the kingdom's leaders, including ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In the aftermath of Khashoggi's killing inside the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2, Saudi Arabia has offered shifting explanations for what happened, at one point saying Khashoggi had walked out of the building unharmed and later saying his death resulted from a fistfight. But Thursday, the country made its first apparent acknowledgement that the operation was "premeditated." Erdogan on Friday did not mention that development, but instead criticized earlier Saudi accounts as "comical."
"These childish statements do not coincide with the seriousness of the state," Erdogan said.
Turkey has launched an expansive search for Khashoggi's remains, and their whereabouts are one of the major outstanding questions in the case. Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor, Erdogan said, will arrive Sunday in Istanbul as part of the investigation.
"There has been a declaration that he has been killed, but where is the body?" Erdogan said. "You must show it."
For Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003, the crime has provided grounds for pushing back against Saudi Arabia, one of its regional rivals, and weakening the credibility of the crown prince. Mohammed this week called the killing a "heinous crime." Both Mohammed and his father, King Salman, have told President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who traveled to Saudi Arabia last week, that they had no knowledge of a plot to kill Khashoggi.
Still, the Trump administration is facing pressure to take action against the kingdom, even though an alliance with the Saudis has been a pillar of its strategy in the Middle East to counter Iran. Trump has called Khashoggi's murder "one of the worst cover ups in the history of cover ups."
On Thursday, CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed Trump about her recent trip to Turkey, where she listened to purported audio of Khashoggi's killing.
In its statement Thursday, Riyadh said it had learned from Turkish officials that the suspects in Khashoggi's killing had "committed their act with a premeditated intention." The Saudi news release, attributed to its public prosecutor, was significant because it relayed Turkey's conclusion, but it did not make clear whether Saudi investigators had reached that same conclusion on their own.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking during a radio interview Friday with Hugh Hewitt, said that "Saudi prosecutors yesterday made clear that this was a premeditated murder that took place, and we're continuing to learn the facts."
"The President has made very clear we will hold those responsible accountable, but that America has important, long-term, strategic interest in our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and that we are going to do both of those things at the same time - protect our interests and hold those responsible accountable," Pompeo said.
Khashoggi was a contributing Washington Post columnist who was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain marriage documents. He was a royal court insider who had become critical of the Saudi government, and he was living in exile in Virginia, in part because of the nation's diminished speech freedoms and its crackdown on dissent.
Khashoggi and Cengiz had recently furnished an apartment for themselves in Istanbul. In an interview with Turkish broadcaster Haberturk that aired Friday, Cengiz said Khashoggi was treated well during an earlier trip to the consulate on Sept. 28.
He still had concerns, but "he thought Turkey is a safe country, and if he would be held or interrogated, this issue would be swiftly solved," Cengiz said, according to an account of the interview translated by Reuters.
Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of Jamal Khashoggi, arrived in the U.S. Thursday after departing Saudi Arabia, one person close to the family said. Salah is a dual U.S.-Saudi citizen who had previously been restricted from leaving and who was photographed earlier this week meeting Salman and Mohammed and receiving their condolences. All four of Khashoggi's children are now in the U.S.