UAE spy arrested by Turkey commits suicide in prison

Published 29.04.2019 09:26
Updated 29.04.2019 13:38
emAFP Photo/em
AFP Photo

One of the two suspects accused of spying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) apprehended by and Turkey earlier this month committed suicide in Silivri prison on Sunday, Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said Monday.

In a written statement, the prosecutor's office said prison guards discovered Zaki Y. M. Hasan's lifeless body hanging from a bathroom door in his cell at 10:22 a.m. on Sunday morning. It is also reported that the suspect was present in his cell during the daily routine check at 8:16 a.m. on the same day.

The statement said an investigation was launched into the suspect's death and a forensic examination and autopsy will be performed on Hasan's body.

Turkish authorities arrested the two intelligence operatives, who confessed to spying on Arab nationals on behalf of the UAE, in Istanbul. Local media previously reported that both suspects were detained on April 15 but according to the statement, Hasan was arrested on April 19.

One of them is suspected of having connections to the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed more than six months ago by a Saudi hit squad at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

The two UAE nationals were detained as part of an investigation led by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and the two were referred to a court to be arrested on charges of military, political and international espionage.

According to reports one of the two men arrived in Turkey in October 2018, only a few days after Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul. Officials said the other spy arrived later to assist his colleague.

The Daily Sabah learned that the suspects, the second identified as S.S., also said that the aim of the spy ring was to create an anti-Turkey structure. S.S. came under the radar of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) for his meetings and was taken under physical and technical surveillance, according to government officials. The MIT also detected that he was gathering information from his contacts in exchange for money.

The other suspect, Z.H., was sent to Turkey five months after S.S. to help him with his activities. The two were found to be working until late at night on some days. When intelligence units concluded that S.S. and Z.H. were conducting espionage activities, MİT and Istanbul police held a joint operation while the two were on their way to a rendezvous point.

Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, by a team of 15, consisting of Saudi officials, who arrived in Turkey for his murder and a cover-up team also in charge of dismembering Khashoggi's body.

The CIA concluded in October that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the assassination of Khashoggi. However, U.S. President Donald Trump has disputed the CIA report and told reporters: "The CIA points it both ways. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't," a phrase he had used in a controversial statement released on the incident. When the reporter asked who should be held responsible for the killing, Trump responded, "Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place."

After weeks of denying any involvement in the crime, Saudi Arabia later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate but denied that the royal family and the crown prince had any prior knowledge of or responsibility for Khashoggi's killing. The incident was blamed on lower-level officials, including five that are now facing the death penalty over their involvement; the kingdom has indicated 21 people are officially involved in the case. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are close allies.

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