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Turkey arrests, investigates suspected UAE spies over Khashoggi murder link

Turkish official tells MEE Istanbul police are examining the intelligence officials' links with the Saudi journalist's death
A woman holds a street sign reading "Jamal Khashoggi street" as members of Amnesty international gather in front of Saudi Arabian consulate on 10 January 2019 in Istanbul (AFP)

Turkey has arrested two alleged intelligence operatives from the United Arab Emirates who are being probed over possible links to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

A Turkish official confirmed to Middle East Eye that the two men were currently under investigation by Istanbul police.

He said the men would be brought to court after questioning.

Another official told Reuters the two men had already confessed to spying for the UAE.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, in an operation that the CIA has determined was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The crown prince has denied any involvement in the killing or its botched cover-up, which Riyadh has described as a "rogue operation".

The official told Reuters one of the two men had arrived in Turkey in October 2018, days after Khashoggi was murdered. He added that the second man arrived to help his colleague with the workload.

He said the first person had been under surveillance for the past six months and that Turkish officials had seized an encrypted computer located in a hidden compartment in the operatives' base of operations.

"We are investigating whether the primary individual's arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder," the official said.

"It is possible that there was an attempt to collect information about Arabs, including political dissidents, living in Turkey."

On 1 April, the Washington Post - for which Khashoggi had previously been a columnist - reported Saudi officials and family friends as saying that the journalist's two sons and two daughters had received million-dollar houses and monthly five-figure payments from the kingdom as compensation for their father's death.

Although compensation has been seen as an attempt to prevent too much vocal criticism of the kingdom from Khashoggi's relatives, one official told the Post that "such support is part of our custom and culture" and that it was "not attached to anything else”.

However, in a statement released on Twitter, Khashoggi's son Salah said that "no settlement discussion had been or is discussed".

The Khashoggi family has been relatively muted in their criticism of the kingdom since their father's death, and have refrained from placing blame on the crown prince.

In his statement on Wednesday, Salah Khashoggi said that MBS and his father King Salman were "considered and regarded as guardians to all Saudis".

"Acts of generosity and humanity come from the high moral grounds they possess, not admission of guilt or scandal," he said.

"We, Jamal Khashoggi's family, were brought up by our parents to thank acts of good, not disavow."