Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the possibility that parts of Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul had been repainted since Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi disappeared there.
Speaking on Tuesday after Turkish police entered the consulate for the first time and searched the premises for nine hours, Erdogan also told reporters that they were looking into toxic materials at the mission.
“My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.
Turkish officials have told reporters that authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, and have shared evidence with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Saudi Arabia has denied any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
A Turkish security official said no conclusive evidence emerged from the overnight search in the consulate.
“However, there are some findings and they are being worked on,” he said, adding that painting may have damaged some evidence. “These can’t be fully erased after all, so the teams will continue to work on this.”
A Turkish diplomatic source said the investigators planned to widen their search on Tuesday to the residence of the Saudi consul.
Turkish television channels have previously shown footage of a large vehicle leaving the consulate two hours after Khashoggi vanished and parking at the consul’s residence.