The Saudi critic and journalist went missing on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to deal with paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. Turkey fears he was killed by the Saudis who say the allegations are baseless.

Human rights activists and friends of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold his picture during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 8, 2018.
Human rights activists and friends of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold his picture during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 8, 2018. (Reuters)

Jamal Khashoggi, the 59-year-old Saudi journalist who wrote Washington Post columns critical of the kingdom's assertive crown prince, has been missing since October 2 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork so he could marry his fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after he walked into the consulate, though they haven't offered any evidence to support that.

The kingdom calls the allegation "baseless." But Riyadh has not offered any evidence to prove its claim that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, even though his fiancee was waiting outside for him.

"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?" Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked at a press briefing.

This is what we know so far:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Saudi Arabia is preparing a report that would admit Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, CNN reported on Monday, citing two unnamed sources.

One source cautioned that the report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said. The other source said the report would likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and that those involved will be held responsible, the cable news outlet said.

A joint Saudi-Turkish team entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to search it, nearly two weeks after the disappearance of Saudi journalist and Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi.

The Turkish team arrived on Monday afternoon shortly after 1500 GMT to the consulate in Istanbul's upscale 4th Levent neighbourhood as journalists filmed and shot photographs of their arrival.

A Saudi team had arrived at the building some half an hour beforehand and were greeted by Turkish prosecutor Hasan Yilmaz who was already waiting at the entrance.

It's unclear what kind of search the officials will conduct and if it will involve forensics, especially since Khashoggi disappeared some two weeks ago. 

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump suggested on Monday that “rogue killers” could be responsible for the Saudi journalist’s disappearance after a personal phone call in which Trump said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman strongly denied any knowledge of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump also announced he’d dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Kingdom and anywhere else necessary to get to the bottom of the suspected murder of Khashoggi. 

Pompeo is expected to stop in Turkey after his trip to Saudi Arabia to talk with King Salman about the missing journalist, a National Security Council spokesman said on Monday.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the weekend ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi case, partly due to information received from Turkish authorities, a Saudi official said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink will not attend a high-profile Saudi Arabia investor conference amid concerns over Khashoggi's fate. BlackRock is currently the world's largest asset manager with $6.29 trillion in assets under management as of December 2017. Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman is also not attending the Future Investment Initiative conference, dubbed 'Davos in the desert', according to Reuters. Blackstone is the world's biggest manager of alternative investments.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call with Saudi King Salman stressed forming a joint working group to probe the disappearance of Khashoggi, a Turkish presidential source said.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia had rejected threats to punish it over the journalist's disappearance, saying the kingdom would retaliate against any sanctions with tougher measures.

The comments came after US President Donald Trump threatened "severe punishment" for Riyadh if it turned out the Riyadh critic was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, the British, French, and German governments directly appealed to Saudi Arabia “to provide a complete and detailed response” to Khashoggi's disappearance.

The list of top business executives and international companies pulling out of a high-profile economic conference Riyadh will host later this month continues to grow.

The latest high-profile name to withdraw was JP Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, although the company did not elaborate on the reasons for Dimon's decision not to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference. Ford Motor Co Chairman Bill Ford has also canceled plans to attend the event.

The Saudi stock market fell as much as 7 percent in early trade on Sunday, one of the first signs of economic pain Riyadh could suffer over the affair. By close, it had recovered some losses, ending down 3.5 percent and losing $16.5 billion of market value.

Meanwhile, former CIA Director John Brennan told NBC Saudi Arabia's denials of involvement in the alleged murder of Khashoggi "ring hollow."

“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. That 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."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Turkey expects cooperation from Saudi Arabia in the Khashoggi cause, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavasoglu said in London. He said there is consensus on forming a joint working group with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia's interior minister rejected claims there were orders to kill the missing Riyadh critic and journalist, describing them as "baseless allegations and lies".

Prince Abdel Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef said his country was "in compliance with international laws and conventions," the official Saudi Press Agency reported him saying.

Read more here

TRT World sources denied Turkish newspaper Sabah 's report that Khashoggi may have used his Apple Watch to record his own torture and murder at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

Sabah reported that the audio of his "interrogation, torture and possible killing was recorded and automatically sent to both his iPhone and cloud account."

The Saudi team investigating Khashoggi's disappearance was to meet prosecutors in Istanbul on Saturday. The team reached Ankara on Friday. 

US President Donald Trump said in a CBS interview aired on Saturday that there would be "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if it turns out that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Friday, October 12

Trump declared the US will uncover the truth about what happened to Khashoggi. Trump told reporters that he has not talked to Saudi Arabia's King Salman but will call the royal leader soon.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed its appreciation to Turkey for agreeing to form a "joint action team," adding that the kingdom is keen "to sustain the security and safety of its citizenry, wherever they might happen to be."

The Saudi authorities have an “obligation” to divulge the fate of missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi, according to UK-based rights watchdog Amnesty International.

Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s MENA regional director, said, “The crimes of enforced disappearance and murder are unacceptable. If the reports are true of the assassination of Khashoggi inside the consulate, it means that it [Saudi Arabia] is responsible for execution outside the country.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron says his country wants to know "the whole truth" about Khashoggi's disappearance and he will discuss the issue with Saudi authorities and the Turkish president in the coming days.

Several major media organisations reconsidered their involvement in the upcoming Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative scheduled to be held in Riyadh later this month, over Khashoggi's disappearance. Heads of the World Bank and big-ticket companies such as AOL and Uber also announced they will not be attending the conference that is widely known as the “Davos of the Middle East.”

Major US defence contractors expressed concern to the Trump administration that lawmakers angered by the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi will block further arms deals with Saudi Arabia, a senior US official said.

Meanwhile, an exiled member of the Saudi royal family, Khaled bin Farhan al Saud, told The Independent  that Saudi authorities had a similar plot to kidnap him from the Saudi consulate in Cairo, 10 days before Jamal Khashoggi went missing.

The 41-year-old exiled prince, who lives in Germany, further said that five other grandsons of late King Abdul Aziz, founder of the modern Saudi kingdom, had tried to express their dissent against Khashoggi's disappearance.

He added that the princes were detained by Saudi authorities and their whereabouts are not known since then.

Thursday, October 11

The Washington Post reported that the Turkish government has told US officials it has audio and video recordings which show how Khashoggi was "interrogated, tortured and then murdered" inside the consulate before his body was dismembered.

Read more here

US Department of State officials weren't immediately available for comment.

Separately, Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey accepted a Saudi proposal to form a joint-working group to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would release information about what happened with Khashoggi after an investigation.

Earlier, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi.

Read more here

The Post, citing anonymous US officials familiar with the intelligence, said Prince Mohammed ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker says he has reviewed US intelligence reports suggesting that Khashoggi was killed on October 2, the day he went to the consulate. 

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned that sanctions would have to be imposed at the "highest levels" of the Saudi government if it were found that the state was behind the disappearance and reported death of Jamal Khashoggi,

Corker and Top Democrat Bob Menendez are triggering an investigation into his disappearance.

Turkish authorities have said he was killed by an elite Saudi "hit squad." The Saudi government has dismissed that allegation.

Erdogan said on Thursday, "If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them, and [I believe] they [the Saudis] would have the most advanced of systems."

Saudi royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert were part of a 15-member team from the kingdom that targeted missing writer, local Turkish media reported. 

Security sources earlier told TRT World one of the men was Salah Muhammed al Tubaigy who heads a “Forensic Evidence Unit” in Saudi Arabia’s “General Security Directorate."

Meanwhile, Trump appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales to the Kingdom over the disappearance, citing economic reasons.

He has said he spoke with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation," and also said the US was working "very closely" with Turkey.

Turkish officials have identified 15 people who are allegedly part of the 'hit squad' targeting Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Turkish officials have identified 15 people who are allegedly part of the 'hit squad' targeting Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (TRTWorld)

Wednesday, October 10

Photos of the 15 men thought to be the Saudi ‘hit squad’ checking in to hotels in Istanbul circulated and were identified by Turkish media who cited officials. 

TRT World also obtained footage showing Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate on October 2. A screenshot of Khashoggi entering the consulate taken by a Turkish police camera, at 1:14pm on October 2 is the last known image seen of the writer who was living in exile between Washington, DC and Istanbul.

Read more here

Turkish security sources told TRT World that the ‘hit squad’ took CCTV footage from the consulate with them when they left Turkey.

Sulah Muhammad al Tubaigy has been identified as one of the 15 men thought to be part of the alleged hit squad in the Jamal Khashoggi case. Khashoggi went missing from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
Sulah Muhammad al Tubaigy has been identified as one of the 15 men thought to be part of the alleged hit squad in the Jamal Khashoggi case. Khashoggi went missing from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. (TRTWorld)

Tuesday, October 9

Saudi officials offered to allow Turkey to search the premises of the consulate in Istanbul.

Read more here

Meanwhile, UN human rights expert David Kaye called for an independent international investigation into the disappearance, urging that the probe "should not be politicised."

He said the case has created a dilemma for the Turkish government. It "puts basically the Turks in the position of having both to maintain a diplomatic relationship and to deal with a real important, high-profile investigation."

Monday, October 8

Turkish officials said they suspect the Washington Post contributor was killed at the Saudi Consulate and that his body was later removed from the building. The Saudi consulate says Khashoggi left its premises.

Erdogan said the kingdom has the responsibility to prove its claim that the missing Saudi journalist left the consulate alive.

Read more here

The Saudi ambassador to Turkey was summoned to the ministry to request Riyadh's cooperation in the investigation, a Turkish official said. Turkey also requested permission to search the consulate building.

The events surrounding Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance on October 2 as gleaned from footage provided to TRT World.
The events surrounding Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance on October 2 as gleaned from footage provided to TRT World. (TRTWorld)

Week of October 1, 2018

Turan Kislakci, Khashoggi’s friend, said on October 7 that officials told him to "make your funeral preparations" as the Washington Post contributor "was killed" at the Saudi Consulate.

"What was explained to us is this: He was killed, make your funeral preparations," Kislakci said. "We called a few other places, but they said, 'We have evidence he was killed in a barbaric way, we will announce it tomorrow or the day after.'"

A Turkish official said on October 6 that an "initial assessment" by police concluded Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate.

The Washington Post printed a blank column in its newspaper on October 5, in solidarity with Khashoggi titled "A missing voice" and called on Prince Mohammed to ensure he "is free and able to continue his work."

Supporters held rallies outside the consulate during the week. Press freedom groups called on Salman to ensure Khashoggi's safety.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies