DUBAI • Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor yesterday said the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was premeditated, citing a joint Saudi-Turkish investigation, state media reported.
Saudi officials had earlier said an internal probe suggested Mr Khashoggi was killed in a botched operation to "negotiate" his return to the kingdom. Riyadh had initially denied having anything to do with Mr Khashoggi's disappearance after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.
Turkey and Western allies of Riyadh have voiced deep doubt towards Saudi explanations of the killing. Turkey has dismissed Saudi efforts to blame rogue operatives for the killing, and urged the kingdom to search "top to bottom" for those responsible.
"Information from the Turkish side affirms that the suspects in Khashoggi's case premeditated their crime," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said.
Saudi prosecutors are interrogating suspects on the basis of information provided by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force, the statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) added.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the two discussed the steps needed to bring to light all aspects of the killing, Saudi and Turkish media said on Wednesday.
CIA director Gina Haspel heard an audio recording of the killing of Mr Khashoggi during her visit to Turkey this week, two sources told Reuters yesterday.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that as Saudi Arabia's paramount ruler, Prince Mohammed bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Mr Khashoggi's death.
In a separate statement, the SPA said the crown prince had presided over the first meeting of a committee to restructure the kingdom's intelligence services. The meeting evaluated current practices and set up recommendations to improve the agencies' work, it said.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May joined other Western leaders on Wednesday and expressed scepticism about the Saudi explanation of Mr Khashoggi's death, saying it lacked credibility.
And Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih conceded that the scandal over Mr Khashoggi had hurt the kingdom's image.
"It's not a death, it's a murder. We admit it, we're dealing with it. As such, we will be transparent and show our allies and friends in the US... that the kingdom is as unhappy about what has happened as anybody else," he told CNN on the sidelines of an investment conference in Riyadh.