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Saudi journalist Khashoggi was killed in consulate, Turkish sources say

Khashoggi, left the country last year saying he feared retribution for his growing criticism of Saudi policy in the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent.

FILE: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in May 2010. Picture: AFP.

ANKARA - Turkish authorities believe Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul last week, Turkish sources said, in what they described as the deliberate targeting of a prominent critic of the Gulf kingdom’s rulers.

Khashoggi, a former newspaper editor in Saudi Arabia and adviser to its former head of intelligence, left the country last year saying he feared retribution for his growing criticism of Saudi policy in the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent.

On Tuesday he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. Saudi officials say he left shortly afterwards but his fiancee, who was waiting outside, said he never came out.

“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one of two Turkish officials told Reuters on Saturday.

The Turkish sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out.

A Saudi source at the consulate denied that Khashoggi had been killed at the mission and said in a statement that the accusations were baseless.

The Saudi source said that a security team including Saudi investigators had arrived in Istanbul on Saturday to take part in the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The United States is seeking more information, a State Department said. “We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are following them closely,” the official said.

Khashoggi’s fiancee could not immediately be contacted but she said in a Tweet that there had been no official confirmation of the Turkish sources’ statements. “Jamal was not killed and I do not believe he was killed,” Hatice Cengiz posted.

Another Turkish security source told Reuters that a group of 15 Saudi nationals, including some officials, had arrived in Istanbul in two planes and entered the consulate on the same day Khashoggi was there, and later left the country.

The source said Turkish officials were trying to identify them. Turkey’s Anadolu news agency also reported that the group of Saudis were briefly at the consulate.

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