In a massive twist in the Jamal Khashoggi murder saga, Turkish outlet Yeni Safak is now reporting that Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman spoke to the journalist moments before he was allegedly murdered by agents from the Middle Eastern nation.
The Saudi administration has maintained that the crown prince had no inkling about Khashoggi’s murder and that his killing was a result of a two-star general going rogue. But Turkey has contradicted that account, with president Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming earlier on Sunday that he would reveal the “naked truth” about what transpired in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the day Khashoggi went missing Tuesday.
The new report by Yeni Safak, a pro-Erdogan newspaper, could corner the crown prince even further, following increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia from the U.K., France, and Germany calling on the Middle Eastern nation to clarify what went down in Istanbul as urgently and as transparently as possible.
The newspaper report claims that Mohammed Bin Salman was keen to meet with Khashoggi in Riyadh, and that he tried to convince him to get back to Saudi Arabia, but that the Washington Post columnist declined the offer, fearing for his life.
A rough translation of an extract from the report is presented below.
“Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh.
Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed’s offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended.”
The accuracy of the report cannot be independently verified.
If this turns out be true, an explosive turn of events:
Turkish newspaper YeniSafak publishes story alleging @washingtonpost
columnist #Khashoggi actually spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Salman on a mobile phone from inside the Embassy, before being killed https://t.co/EznHnCIB9w pic.twitter.com/Y9LahpHMP3
— Raju Narisetti (@raju) October 21, 2018
The revelation, if true, goes against the official Saudi Arabian stance of crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman being in the dark about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Earlier on Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, made a stunning admission saying that although there had been a cover-up attempt following the murder, it did not involve the crown prince but other top Saudi officials.
“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover up,” he told Fox News, promising that “those responsible will be punished for it.”
It remains to be seen what the fallout from the report in Yeni Safak is, but if the accuracy of their source is verified, the fact that Khashoggi talked to Mohammed Bin Salman moments before his death would surely implicate the leader of Saudi Arabia directly.