It looked like a first-class spy thriller: A prominent writer enters the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but never leaves the building. Saudi officials said he left the building but could not offer footage from security cameras. When they did, the image was of a dark-haired body-double dressed in the writer’s clothes.
Turkish police and intelligence start leaking evidence of the man’s murder, drop by drop. The day before the Saudi journalist’s disappearance, two private Saudi jets had arrived in Istanbul, with 15 passengers aboard belonging to security agencies in Riyadh. Both jets left for Saudi Arabia shortly after the consulate incident. Unnamed Turkish officials fed (mostly foreign) media stories of how the man had been killed, how his body was dismembered and disposed of after the murder — all by the Saudi death squad. As the Saudi consul-general rushed to Riyadh, Turkish police searched the consulate. More unnamed Turkish officials tell the press that they found forensic evidence for the murder. Unsure if the Turkish police really have evidence, the House of Saud decides to admit that the man had been killed “in a brawl” at the consulate but Saudi officials claim to have no idea where his body was — not convincing anyone in the world’s more democratic parts.
The Saudis then said they fired five officials and arrested 18. In the latest episode, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: