The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday that there is “strong suspicion” that Ahmed al-Asiri and Saud al-Qahtani were “among the planners” of Khashoggi’s assassination inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.
A Turkish official told Reuters that the fresh move “reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won’t take formal action against those individuals.”
He also stressed that the wording of the warrants appeared to indicate that more arrests could be sought.
Major General Assiri, the deputy chief of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence, and Qahtani, in charge of media affairs at the royal court, were among five high-ranking Saudi officials who were dismissed last month over the murder case.
According to Khashoggi’s friends, Qahtani, who is believed to have overseen the journalist’s murder, had previously tried to persuade him to return to the kingdom, even offering him the prospect of a government job.
The Washington Post columnist, however, had declined the offer amid worries that it could be a trap.
In a tweet in August 2017, Qahtani had said, “I don’t do anything from my own head without an order. I am an employee and executer to my king and my crown prince.”
Khashoggi, a one-time royal insider who had been critical of the crown prince recently, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
After weeks of denials of any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Riyadh regime eventually acknowledged the “premeditated” murder, but has vehemently sought to distance the heir to the throne from the case.
A Saudi prosecutor said Khashoggi’s body had been dismembered, removed from the diplomatic mission and handed to an unidentified “local cooperator.”
The CIA is said to have concluded that bin Salman had “probably ordered” the murder.
A highly-classified CIA assessment, seen by The Wall Street Journal, said the Saudi crown prince had sent at least 11 messages to Qahtani in the hours surrounding the journalist’s killing.