A little over a week ago, a prominent Saudi journalist walked into the consulate general in Istanbul, intending to get paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. She hasn’t seen him since.Since then, officials and journalists have scrambled to piece together the story of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.
Closed-circuit television footage, flight trackers, Intercepted Communications and even a bone saw have served as pieces of a puzzle that has spurred a diplomatic outcry. In the latest development, top Turkish security officials concluded that the « highest levels of the royal court » in Saudi Arabia. The official described the operation as « quick and complex, » killing Khashoggi within two hours of his arrival at the consulate. The agents « dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose, » the official told The New York Times. « It’s like Pulp Fiction, » he added.
Turkish officials have said that a 15-person team flew into Saudi Arabia for the operation. Some arrived on two private planes; aviation data analyzed by CNN backs up evidence of the planes’ arrival in Istanbul.Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal court insider turned journalist, disappeared last Tuesday after entering his country’s consulate in Istanbul. His case has prompted calls for investigations from the kingdom’s staunchest Western residency.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied Turkey’s account of the story, saying that Khashoggi left the embassy on the same day he arrived. In a statement to CNN on Monday, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, assailed the « various malicious leaks and grim rumors » that suggest Khashoggi was killed or detained by Saudi authorities. The ambassador — a brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman false and baseless. »
But Turkish officials have repeatedly suggested that Khashoggi has been killed. A friend of the journalist, Turan Kislakci, who is also the head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, told CNN that Turkish officials called him and « offered their condolences and told us to be ready for a funeral. »
US officials reportedly also have evidence that Saudi Arabia made plans to apprehend Khashoggi.
The Washington Post the paper Khashoggi worked for citing a person familiar with the information, said US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture the newspaper’s source.
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It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the United States warned Khashoggi that he was a target, the source told The Washington Post.Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, implored Trump « to help shed light » on his disappearance in an op-ed published A CCTV image obtained by CNN showed the missing Saudi journalist entering the Saudi consulate on Tuesday, October 2.Erdogan has demanded that the Saudis back up their claims by producing surveillance imagery of Khashoggi leaving the embassy.On Tuesday, The Guardian newspaper reported that the consulate’s Turkish staff were told to take a day off the day Khashoggi disappeared.
It also reported that Turkish investigators believe security footage from inside the consulate was removed and taken back to Saudi Arabia on a private jet.During a tour of the six-story consulate given to journalists on Saturday, Saudi Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi told Reuters that while the consulate was equipped with cameras, they did not record footage leaving the building.