Saudi Arabia 'secretly' sells Istanbul consulate where Khashoggi was murdered
The Saudi consulate building in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul, where prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered by a hit team last October, has reportedly been sold recently and the mission will soon be moving to a new location.
Turkey’s pro-administration English-language daily Daily Sabah, citing a report published by Turkish-language Habertürk television news network, reported on Tuesday that the four-story building, which is located in the upscale neighborhood of Levent, was hastily sold to an undeclared buyer 45 days ago for nearly one-third of the market price so that the consulate could exit as soon as possible.
The report added that the consulate will accordingly be moving to a location near the US consulate building in Istinye neighborhood in Sariyer district.
A Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye that they didn't have any information confirming the sale.
The Saudi Arabian government would have needed to seek permission from the foreign ministry for the sale and the reason would be security, Habertürk's report said.
“The Saudi security team who visited Turkey immediately after the Khashoggi murder had prepared a technical report that said they couldn’t discover all the bugs in the consulate and therefore a new building was needed,” the report said.
“The Saudis are also trying to sell the consul general’s official residence, which is located very close to the consulate. But they couldn’t find any buyer yet,” it added.
According to Turkish legal experts, the consulate building is still considered a crime scene and the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office might seal off the building until their investigation is concluded.
The report comes just two weeks ahead of the first anniversary of Khashoggi's killing, which is widely believed to have been ordered by the Saudi crown prince and de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.