Turkey arrests two suspected UAE spies: report

Istanbul: Turkey has arrested two men suspected of spying for the United Arab Emirates and is probing if they are tied to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Anadolu state news agency said on Friday.

The two were detained as part of an investigation by Istanbul prosecutors into alleged spying by the Gulf state, Anadolu reported. It did not say when they were arrested or name the two men.

A critic of the Saudi regime, Khashoggi was killed October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has never been recovered.

The pro-government Turkish newspaper, Yeni Safak, reported the two suspects were arrested on Monday in a joint operation by Turkish police and the MIT intelligence service.

The two suspects, both UAE citizens, had been in contact with an individual who was under surveillance in the Khashoggi case, the paper reported.

After first denying Khashoggi’s murder, Saudi Arabia later said rogue agents had carried out the operation.

A trial of 11 suspects opened earlier this year in Saudi Arabia.

Much of the case remains unclear, including the role of Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.

The CIA has concluded the Saudi operation was likely directed by the powerful crown prince, but the White House has sidestepped that finding amid denials by Riyadh, a key US ally.

But the murder stirred international outrage and considerably hurt the image of the crown prince.

Turkey has delicate relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the Arab states that imposed a blockade on Qatar, one of Ankara’s close allies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said he would keep investigating Khashoggi’s death and has criticised the lack of cooperation from Riyadh.