John Brennan says he believes it is impossible that Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance in Istanbul two weeks ago had nothing to do with Saudi Arabia.

Former American head of intelligence John Brennan says Saudi Arabia must have known about the alleged operation against Jamal Khashoggi.
Former American head of intelligence John Brennan says Saudi Arabia must have known about the alleged operation against Jamal Khashoggi. (Reuters)

Former CIA Director John Brennan on Sunday told NBC that Saudi Arabia's denials of involvement in the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi "ring hollow."

Khashoggi, a US resident and a Riyadh critic columnist at The Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago to get marriage documents. Turkish officials have said authorities believe he was murdered there and his body removed.

“If Khashoggi had disappeared in Turkey when he was at a hotel or a private residence, I think there is plausible deniability on the part of the Saudi government. But he disappeared when there is video evidence of him being at the consulate," Brennan said.

"Their denials ring hollow, very much ring hollow. To go after a permanent resident of the United States who writes for The Washington Post, and doing it on foreign soil, at a diplomatic mission, to me it would be inconceivable,” he added.

“Such an operation would be run by the Saudis without the knowledge of the day-to-day decision maker of Saudi Arabia, that's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. I think it is just beyond reality."

Saudi Arabia has strongly denied killing Khashoggi and denounced such assertions as "lies", saying he left the building shortly after entering.

A Turkish official and a security source told Reuters on Monday that the authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, without providing further details.

The official said evidence was being shared with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The case has provoked an international outcry, with US President Donald Trump threatening "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and European allies urging "a credible investigation" and accountability for those responsible.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies