LONDON - Turkey has arrested two men suspected of spying for the United Arab Emirates and is probing if they are tied to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder, Anadolu state news agency said on Friday.
The two were detained as part of an investigation by Istanbul prosecutors into alleged spying by the Gulf state, Anadolu reported. It was not clear when they were arrested.
But analysts said that Ankara’s probe Emiratis suspects’ link to Khashoggi’s murder was aimed at drawing Turks’ attention from Turkey’s economic and political woes.
President Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party incurred shock losses in local elections in big cities last month. It is contesting initial results in Istanbul.
Uncertainty over the Istanbul election outcome has added to investors' jitters, as have a series of stop-gap government efforts late last month - including the launch of a probe into JP Morgan's investment advice to clients - to support the lira.
The lira tumbled some 30 percent in 2018, causing the economy to tip into a recession that economists expect will extend at least into the second half of this year.
A critic of the Saudi regime, Khashoggi was killed October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has never been recovered.
Saudi Arabia said rogue agents had carried out the operation.
A trial of 11 suspects opened earlier this year in Saudi Arabia.
Turkey has delicate relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the Arab states that imposed a blockade on Qatar, one of Ankara's close allies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said he would keep investigating Khashoggi's death and has criticised the lack of cooperation from Riyadh.