Killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Was Premeditated, Country’s Attorney General Says

Win McNamee  Getty Images North America

Win McNamee Getty Images North America

Signalling a major pivot in its narrative, Saudi Arabia on Thursday said evidence shows that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was premeditated, an apparent effort to ease global outrage over the death of a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"The public prosecution received information from the Turkish side through the Joint Working Group between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Turkish Republic, indicating that the suspects in Khashoggi's case premeditated their crime", Attorney General Shaikh Suood bin Abdullah Al Mo'jab said.

Khashoggi - a United States resident, The Washington Post columnist, and a leading critic of bin Salman - entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, but he did not leave the building.

Turkey had been especially skeptical of that claim, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated earlier this week that Khashoggi was "brutally murdered" in a Saudi operation, as NPR reported.

The son, a dual U.S. -Saudi citizen who was photographed receiving condolences from Salman and Mohammed on Tuesday, had previously been restricted from leaving.

On October 2, he walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul and he never left. "The criminal investigation continues in Turkey".

Erdogan has called Khashoggi's murder a "savage killing" and demanded Riyadh punish those responsible, no matter how highly placed.

Macron expressed profound outrage during a phone conversation with Salman, it said, adding that the president had asked the king that the circumstances around Khashoggi's death be fully disclosed.

On Thursday, conflicting reports surfaced about whether investigators had searched a well in the garden of Saudi Arabia's consulate as part of their probe.

Saudi Arabia has sought to draw a line under the crisis over Khashoggi's murder, but has come under mounting pressure from skeptical world powers demanding answers and the whereabouts of his body.

King Salman also spoke to Vladimir Putin on Thursday, telling the Russian president that the Saudi government was determined to hold the guilty parties accountable and to make sure "they receive their punishment". Then they said he died in a fistfight in the consulate. According to an announcement by the U.S. State Department, the visas of 21 Saudis will be revoked as a result of the Khashoggi investigation.

Initially it was reported Khashoggi's Apple watch may have recorded his brutal murder - but now it seems likely Turkish spies were covertly recording what was happening in the consulate, either using a listening device hidden inside or by aiming a powerful microphone at the building from outside.

A photograph of the meeting published by the official Saudi Press Agency showed Salah staring coldly at the prince as the pair shook hands.

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