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Suspected UAE spy held in Turkey commits suicide

A Turkish police officer stands guard outside Istanbul's courthouse on March 26, 2019, during the trial of a US consulate staffer accused of spying and attempting to overthrow the government. (Photo by AFP)

One of the two suspected UAE spies detained by Turkey earlier this month has committed suicide, Turkey's media outlets said on Monday.

The detainee committed suicide in Silivri prison on the outskirts of Istanbul, they said. A source within Turkey's Justice Ministry also confirmed the report.

The two suspects were arrested in Istanbul on April 15 as part of a counter-intelligence investigation.

The pair confessed to spying on Arab nationals on behalf of the Untied Arab Emirates, a senior Turkish official said, adding that Turkey was investigating whether the arrival of one of them could be linked to the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

"We are investigating whether the primary individual's arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder," the official said, adding the suspect had been monitored for the past six months.

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

Khashoggi — a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Turkey, which said it was in possession of audio evidence of Khashoggi’s murder soon after he failed to exit the consulate, has indirectly suggested that bin Salman ordered his killing.

The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November last year that the CIA had also concluded that bin Salman ordered his killing.

After weeks of outright denial, the Riyadh regime eventually acknowledged the murder but has attempted since to shift the blame to bin Salman's underlings and away from the prince himself.

International suspicion, however, remains largely directed at the heir to the Saudi throne. 

Ankara has demanded that Riyadh extradite the suspects in the case to stand trial in Turkey. Saudi Arabia has refused to do so.

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