The office of Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor says information obtained from Turkey shows that suspects in slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing planned to act in advance.
Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said Jamal Khashoggi's murder in Istanbul was "premeditated" based on information supplied by Turkey, state media reported.
The slain Washington Post writer went missing after he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The kingdom initially claimed he left the premises the same day, however, a series of media leaks pointing towards his killing promoted the Saudis to accept on October 20 that Khashoggi died of accidental causes. The prosecutor's claim on Thursday is the third major change in narrative.
"Information from the Turkish authorities indicates that the act of the suspects in the Khashoggi case was premeditated," the public prosecutor said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Meanwhile, in Istanbul, Turkish police sent water samples taken from a well at the Saudi consul general's residence for forensic testing.
Turkish authorities were granted permission by Saudi officials to carry out inspections of the well after initially being denied access.
Statements were also taken from at least 38 Saudi Consulate employees.
Khashoggi's friends and loved ones held a memorial outside the consulate on Thursday night, promising to follow through till justice for the journalist is achieved.
TRT World's Reagan Des Vignes reports.
CIA director in Turkey
CIA Director Gina Haspel listened to an audio tape of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s interrogation and murder during a visit to Turkey, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
“Haspel, who departed for a secret trip to Turkey on Monday, heard the audio during her visit, according to people familiar with her meetings,” said the US newspaper.
“A person familiar with the audio said it was ‘compelling’ and could put more pressure on the United States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of Khashoggi,” the newspaper reported.
Haspel is expected to brief US President Donald Trump on Thursday about her trip to Turkey and discussions with Turkish officials as Washington took its first steps in punishing the Saudis by deciding to revoke the visas of the suspects so far identified.
Trump on Tuesday called the operation a "total fiasco."
"They had a very bad original concept," Trump said. "It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. Somebody really messed up, and they had the worst cover-up ever."
Mohammad vows justice
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denounced on Wednesday the "repulsive" murder of Jamal Khashoggi and vowed justice will prevail, in his first public comments on the case, without addressing US accusations of a monumental cover-up.
Speaking at an investment forum hosted by Riyadh, the crown prince said, "Many are trying to exploit the Khashoggi affair to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey."
"I have a message for them: They will not be able to do that as long as there is a king called Salman bin Abdulaziz and a crown prince called Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi, and a president in Turkey called Erdogan," he said to applause.
"The incident was very painful for all Saudis, it's a repulsive incident and no one can justify it," the crown prince told the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh.
"Those responsible will be held accountable... in the end justice will prevail," the presumed heir apparent to the Saudi throne said.
The crown prince's address comes as he has been indirectly or directly accused of complicity in Khashoggi's killing, including by Trump who told the Wall Street Journal: "Well, the prince is running things over there more... so if anybody were going to be, it would be him." Trump also said, however, the crown prince "strongly said that he had nothing to do with this, this was at a lower level."
Faced with mounting international censure, bin Salman appeared relaxed and occasionally joked as he shared the stage with Lebanon's prime minister-designate Saad Hariri and Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad.
Ankara continues its investigation
Three weeks since Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in self-imposed exile, disappeared after walking into the consulate to obtain marriage documents, the crisis shows no sign of abating, with key pieces of evidence including the body still missing.
Ankara is continuing its investigation into the killing which Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said was a "premeditated" and "brutal murder" as he called for those held responsible, no matter how high or low, to be tried in Turkey.
Erdogan spoke with bin Salman on Wednesday in their first telephone conversation since the killing, a Turkish presidential source and Saudi state media said.
The two discussed "the issue of joint efforts and the steps that need to be taken in order to shed light on the Jamal Khashoggi murder in all its aspects," the source added.
Turkey's Anadolu Agency released a screengrab of CCTV footage from Istanbul's Belgrad Forest that showed a vehicle, carrying diplomatic number plates that the news agency said was owned by the Saudi consulate and visiting the area one before a Saudi hit-squad sent from Riyadh murdered Khashoggi.
Turkey has also said that Saudi consular officials had made "reconnaissance" trips to the forest as well as the city of Yalova ahead of the murder of the prominent Riyadh critic. Turkish officials have told the AP that investigators were looking into the possibility that the journalist's remains may have been disposed of at those two locations.