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Saudi leadership ordered Khashoggi's murder, Turkey says Open in fullscreen

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Saudi leadership ordered Khashoggi's murder, Turkey says

Mohammed bin Salman in Hangzhou, China [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2018

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Anonymous officials say the scale and complexity of the alleged assassination means it was directed from the highest echelons in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia's top leadership ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish officials said according to an explosive new report by The New York Times.

Khashoggi, 59, was reportedly killed within two hours of arriving at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. The Times' report said, by a team of agents.

They then dismembered Khashoggi's body with a "bone saw" that was brought over from Saudi Arabia for that purpose.

Earlier, Turkish daily Sabah listed the names and images of 15 suspected Saudi operatives who landed in Istanbul on the day Khashoggi vanished last week after entering the Saudi consulate.

The 15-man squad arrived on two private planes at Istanbul's Ataturk airport last Tuesday, returning that same day to Riyadh.

It is claimed that one of the men was a forensics expert, while others were part of the military or had close links to Saudi Arabia's ruling inner-circle.

They reportedly took CCTV footage from the consulate with them back to Riyadh, while Turkish staff at the consulate were told to take holiday the day Khashoggi arrived.

Saudi Arabia has claimed the CCTV cameras were not working on Tuesday, to explain their inability to provide video evidence that Khashoggi left the consular building as they claimed he did.

Turkish officials have concluded that Khashoggi's assassination was directed from top Saudi leaders because of the scale and complexity of the operation.

Separately, the state-run TRT World released video footage on Wednesday of the Saudi squad arriving in Istanbul and leaving that day. 

But Turkish officials declined to go on record as Turkey tries to manage its difficult relationship with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stopped short of accusing Riyadh of killing Khashoggi, but the Times' report says he dispatched officials to speak anonymously to media outlets.

News of Saudi Arabia orchestrating the assassination of Khashoggi has put further pressure on its ally the US to take action.

Khashoggi, who has penned articles critical of some of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies in the Arab and Western press, was a Washington Post op-ed writer.

He was also a US resident living in self-imposed exile in Washington. He had already applied to become a US citizen, according to an op-ed in the Post by his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting for him outside the consulate on 2 October when he disappeared. 

Saudi Arabia has called the charge that it killed or kidnapped Khashoggi "baseless", but has provided no evidence that he left the consulate.

No security footage has been released showing the journalist leaving the premises. 

A separate Post report on Wednesday said that US officials intercepted communications between Saudi officials before he went missing on 2 October discussing plans to capture Khashoggi and lure him back to Saudi Arabia. 

It's not clear from the intercepted communications if the Saudis planned to abduct or kill Khashoggi and whether the US had warned the Saudi journalist. 

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