Erdogan: Investigators found consulate materials painted over

Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said investigators searching a Saudi consulate building in Istanbul where journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing earlier this month found materials that had been painted over.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a Saudi royal insider-turned-critic, was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 for paperwork needed for his planned marriage.

Turkish intelligence officials earlier claimed having audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate building but Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied these allegations.

Updating lawmakers in Ankara on the ongoing inquiry into the case, Erdogan said investigators were searching a toxic substance and examining certain materials that had allegedly been covered up with paint during the two weeks that elapsed between Khashoggi’s disappearance and Monday, when a joint Turkish and Saudi forensics team were granted entrance to the building.

Investigators worked through the night and inspections were scheduled to continue on Tuesday, Erdogan said.

Turkish press said officials had removed two van-loads of material from the complex.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday travelled to the Sunni kingdom to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks on the obscure events of October 2 amid fraying relations between Riyadh and its Western allies.

US President Donald Trump said Washington was working with Turkey and Saudi Arabia to uncover what happened to Khashoggi, although he distanced himself from allegations that the journalist was the victim of a state-sponsored extra-judicial assassination, instead suggesting “rogue killers” were to blame.