Saudi Arabian prosecutors said Thursday the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned in advance.
Public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement that conclusion was based on evidence from Turkish authorities.
The prosecutor’s remarks Thursday contradict an earlier claim by the Saudi royal family that Khashoggi was killed in a fight when he visited the Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2 to get paperwork for his wedding.
Khashoggi had his fingers cut off and then was decapitated and dismembered, Turkish officials have said. His body has not been found.
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Turkish intelligence has said a 15-person “hit team” was waiting for Khashoggi when he arrived at the consulate — some of whom are in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, officials said.
Former CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey this week to review evidence and is expected to brief President Donald Trump on Thursday. Haspel heard the audio recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation and killing, the Washington Post reported.
“This puts the ball firmly in Washington’s court,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institute. “Not only will there be more pressure now from the media but Congress will say, ‘Gina, we would have to have you come visit and you can tell us exactly what you heard.'”
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Trump called the Khashoggi case the “worst cover-up ever” and said the Saudis behind it “should be in big trouble.”
On Wednesday, Mohammed spoke publicly for the first time on the matter, saying the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death are “painful for every person,” and said it would not cause a rift between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The prince and King Salman met with members of Khashoggi’s family Tuesday. Within the government, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said there’s a “crisis” atmosphere.