Police in Khashoggi case ‘search forest’

Police are believed to have extended their search to the Belgrad Forest

Police in Turkey investigating the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have expanded their search, reports say.

Unnamed Turkish officials say his body may have been disposed of in the nearby Belgrad forest or on farmland.

Mr Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, where Turkish officials allege he was murdered.

Saudi Arabia denies any knowledge of what happened to him.

Samples taken from the Saudi consulate and the consul’s residence during searches this week are being tested for a match with Mr Khashoggi’s DNA.

Turkish forensic investigators
Turkish forensic investigators have already searched the Saudi consulate and consul’s residence

Separately, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly denied having listened to an audio recording Turkey says is evidence of Mr Khashoggi’s murder.

“I’ve heard no tape, I’ve seen no transcript,” he said.

Mr Pompeo also strongly criticised ABC News, which had earlier quoted a senior Turkish official as saying that he had been given access to the recording.

“This is wrong to do to the fiancée of Khashoggi,” he added. “This is a very serious matter that we’re working diligently on, and so to put out headlines that are factually false does no one any good.”

Turkey has previously said it has audio and video evidence of Mr Khashoggi’s murder, but these have not been made public. Its foreign minister reiterated on Friday that Turkey had not shared audio recordings with anyone.

The incident has caused considerable strain between Saudi Arabia and its Western allies.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia’s leaders are considering blaming a high-level intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing. This, says the newspaper, is being viewed as a recognition of the international outcry over the scandal.

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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox are the latest senior figures to pull out of a major investment conference in Riyadh next week.

The summit is being hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman to promote his reform agenda.

However, a number of major businesses – including Pepsi and EDF – are still intending to go despite growing pressure for a boycott.