Turkey slams 'unacceptable' French comments over Khashoggi probe

AFP , Monday 12 Nov 2018

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: AFP)

Turkey on Monday lashed out at "unacceptable" comments by the French foreign minister who accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of playing a "political game" over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey had shared recordings linked to the Saudi journalist's murder last month with Riyadh, as well as the United States, France, Britain and other allies, without giving details of the tapes' specific content.

In an interview with France 2 television on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he "for the moment was not aware" of any information transmitted by Ankara.

Asked if the Turkish president was lying, he said: "It means that he has a political game to play in these circumstances."

His comments provoked fury in Ankara.

"We find it unacceptable that he accused President Erdogan of 'playing political games'," the communications director at the Turkish presidency, Fahrettin Altun, told AFP in a written statement.

"Let us not forget that this case would have been already covered up had it not been for Turkey's determined efforts."

Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate last month in a hit which President Tayyip Erdogan says was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Altun said Le Drian's comments about the investigation "do not reflect the facts".

He said Ankara had shared evidence linked to the murder with officials from a large number of countries and that France was "no exception".

"I confirm that evidence pertaining to the Khashoggi murder has also been shared with the relevant agencies of the French government," he said.

A representative of French intelligence listened to the audio recording and examined detailed information including a transcript on October 24, he added.

"If there is miscommunication between the French government's various agencies, it is up to the French authorities -- not Turkey -- to take care of that problem," Altun said.

Canada 'fully briefed'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that his government had been "fully briefed" on recordings provided by Ankara.

"Canada has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share," Trudeau said at a press conference in Paris, where he was attending a peace forum hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trudeau said he had brief exchanges with Erdogan over the weekend in Paris where world leaders attended commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

"I thanked him for his strength in responding to the Khashoggi situation."

Asked if he had heard the recording himself, he said: "I have not."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Turkish and German secret services had an "exchange" on the Khashoggi file, but declined to elaborate.

"I can tell you that there was an exchange between secret services on this point," he told a press briefing.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was due to visit Saudi Arabia on Monday for a meeting with King Salman and the crown prince over the murder.

"It is clearly unacceptable that the full circumstances behind his murder still remain unclear," Hunt said.

He encouraged Saudi authorities to "co-operate fully with the Turkish investigation into his death."

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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