ANKARA (REUTERS, AFP) – Turkish authorities believe that prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared four days ago after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, was killed inside the consulate, two Turkish sources said on Saturday (Oct 6).
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one of the sources, a Turkish official, told Reuters.
The sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported earlier on Saturday that Turkey had opened a probe into the disappearance of Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post.
Riyadh says he left the consulate, but Ankara had claimed he was still inside.
The news agency quoted Istanbul prosecutors as saying that an investigation had been launched on Tuesday and had been widened since.
Police, also quoted by Anadolu, said that Khashoggi “did not come back out” of the consulate after entering the building.
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.
They left again the same day, police added.
Khashoggi went to the consulate to receive an official document for his marriage.
A former government adviser who has been critical of some policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen, Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year to avoid possible arrest.
The Saudi crown prince has told Bloomberg that the journalist was not inside the consulate and said he was ready to allow Turkish authorities to search the building.
"We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises," he said, which is Saudi sovereign territory.
He added "we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do... We have nothing to hide," he said in the interview published on Friday.
According to Khashoggi's fiancee, a Turkish woman identified only as Hatice A, he went to the consulate and never re-emerged.
Ankara and Riyadh have given contradictory versions of the circumstances of Khashoggi's disappearance.