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Saudi crown prince 'phoned Khashoggi at the consulate right before he was killed'

The Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 October, 2018

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, according to Turkish media

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak revealed new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi's murder.

"Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh," the report said.

"Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed's offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended," it added.

While it is difficult to verify the source of this information, Turkish pro-government media have been receiving a steady stream of leaks many of which turned out to be accurate, including pictures of the hit team as they entered Turkey and reports of audio recordings of the murder said to be in the possession of Turkish authorities.

Saudi authorities conceded Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom's Istanbul diplomatic compound following a "brawl".

Their admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive.

The Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community.

On October 5, Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and "we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises".

The kingdom has fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing - a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the crown prince's role in the murder.

Several senior members of US President Donald Trump's Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a "collective" Western response if a link is proved.

"Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies," Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.

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