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Saudi government planned Jamal Khashoggi hit: NY Times

10 October 2018

A newspaper close to the Turkish president published photos Wednesday of what it said was a 15-member "assassination squad" allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkish officials fear the team killed Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Sabah newspaper published images of the men apparently taken at passport control.

The video then cuts away to traffic outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul's upscale 4th Levent neighborhood, showing vehicles with green diplomatic license plates.

Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, insisting he left the consulate on his own, but has provided no evidence that he departed the building.

Saudi government planned Jamal Khashoggi hit: NY Times
Saudi government planned Jamal Khashoggi hit: NY Times

Sabah newspaper published the names and years of birth of 15 Saudis it said arrived at Istanbul's Ataturk airport on October 2.

"In most cases, their arrests have never been officially confirmed and no official has ever said where they are being held or what they are charged with", said the watchdog.

Beyond that, conjecture and anonymous security sources paint a picture of possible abduction and even murder, with the Saudi consulate in Istanbul at the centre of a mystery that has captured the global media's attention. Both the Times and the Post are reporting that a group of 15 men, including an "autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body", arrived from Riyadh on the morning Khashoggi disappeared and left Istanbul later that afternoon. He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia who has dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

He is also a former editor of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan and had worked with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of the first Saudi king who was detained a year ago as part of what the authorities said was an anti-corruption campaign.

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Turkish officials fear he was killed inside the building and his body removed.

Sabah daily on Wednesday published the names and images of what it called the "assassination team" including a man called Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy whose name it said matched that of a lieutenant-colonel in the Saudi forensic department.

Despite this, he gave his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz two mobile phones and told her to call an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he did not come back out.

An unnamed senior official told the New York Times there was a complex operation in which Mr Khashoggi was killed within two hours of arriving and then dismembered.

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Video timestamps show a black Mercedes Vito leaving the Saudi consulate a minute after it arrives at the consul general's house.

Before Khashoggi disappeared, United States intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to grab him, the Washington Post reported.

Khashoggi's fiance has asked US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump to "help shed light" on his disappearance. Turkey said Tuesday it will search the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a missing Saudi contributor to The Washington Post, a week after he vanished during a visit there.

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Saudi government planned Jamal Khashoggi hit: NY Times