Recent evidence has emerged speaking of a link between the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the ruler of Saudi Arabia.
The leader of the 15-member Saudi hit team — alleged to have been responsible for the journalist’s death — placed four phone calls to bin Salman’s private office after Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported on Monday.
Khashoggi entered the consulate on October 2 and never came out. After denying for more than two weeks that it had anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance — and even denying that he had been killed — the Saudi government said on Saturday that the 60-year-old columnist had died during a “fist fight” with members of the 15-member Saudi team that had flown into Turkey that morning to intercept Khashoggi. The Saudi story soon changed to say that Khashoggi had died in a “choke hold,” as the Inquisitr reported.
But other media outlets such as the London-based Middle East Eye — which published numerous columns by Khashoggi under an anonymous byline over the course of the past two years — have reported that audio recordings made inside the consulate reveal that Khashoggi was dismembered, possibly while he was still alive.
According to the Monday Yeni Safak report, the leader of that 15-member Saudi team, who is a colonel in the Saudi intelligence services according to a BBC report, called the director of bin Salman’s private office four times after Khashoggi died.
Yeni Safak had reported earlier that bin Salman himself spoke with Khashoggi before the journalist was killed, but that report has not been independently verified. The story also does not appear to have been republished in the online, English-language edition of the paper — whose name translates as New Dawn.
Yeni Safak attributed its report on the phone calls placed by Saudi team leader Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb to the director of the Crown Prince’s private office, Badr Al Asaker, to “information obtained by New Dawn.”
Mutreb also called a phone number in the United States, which the paper said likely belonged to the younger brother of Mohammed bin Salman — Khaled bin Salman, who is the Saudi ambassador to the United States. But Khaled bin Salman departed Washington D.C. for Riyadh within days of the Khashoggi’s disappearance in the Istanbul Saudi consulate, according to a Newsweek report.
Khashoggi visited the consulate to obtain paperwork enabling him to marry his fiancé, Turkish doctoral student Hatice Cengiz. Cengiz has now been placed under 24-hour police protection, according to the Guardian.