Turkey concludes Saudi journalist killed by ‘murder’ team, sources say

Turkey concludes Saudi journalist killed by ‘murder’ team, sources say

A prominent Saudi journalist and critic of the regime was murdered at the country's consulate in Istanbul last week by a 15-member team sent specifically for the objective, Turkish officials claimed yesterday.

A USA official said Turkish government officials have concluded that Khashoggi was likely killed inside the consulate by a team that flew in with two private jets.

"The official strongly denounced these baseless allegations, and expressed doubt that they came from Turkish officials that are informed of the investigation or are authorized to comment on the issue", the statement from the Saudi Press Agency says, in part.

The police said that around 15 Saudis, including officials, came to Istanbul on two flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as the journalist.

Officials said they believe 59-year-old Khashoggi's death was planned and Saudi officials had travelled to Istanbul from Riyadh after receiving word that he was going to visit the consulate to sign divorce papers. Another official confirmed the story. The Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper said that the journalist had been flown to Saudi Arabia with the apparent consent of the Turkish intelligence authorities.

They did not give any evidence for the claim, nor suggest how he was killed. "These are the facts", Yasin Aktay, vice chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, told CNN Turk on Sunday.

The Saudi source said that a security team including Saudi investigators had arrived in Istanbul on Saturday to take part in the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Earlier, Prince bin Salman told Bloomberg News that Turkish authorities were welcome to search the building.

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"We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are following them closely", the official said.

Two months later, writing about the detentions of scores of Saudi royals, senior officials and businessmen accused of corruption, he said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dispensed "selective justice" and said there was "complete intolerance for even mild criticism" of the crown prince. "Jamal was - or, as we hope, is - a committed, courageous journalist".

'We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises, ' he said. "We have nothing to hide".

"Everyone heard about the rumours of Saudi Arabia cancelling the IPO of Aramco, delaying that, and that this is delaying Vision 2030", he said.

"We do not know if he is alive or not, and the statements by Saudi Arabia on the subject are far from satisfactory", Turan Kislakci, a friend of Khashoggi and chief of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, told supporters on Friday.

Mr Khashoggi went to the consulate to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice, who went with him to the building and waited outside, but did not see him leave.

Once regarded as close to the Saudi establishment, he was a frequent defender of the kingdom's policies.

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