Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul on October 2. Since then, Saudi Arabia's original story of the murder has been repeatedly altered and retrofitted to match the version of events presented by Turkish officials.
Jamal Khashoggi – a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – visited the kingdom's Istanbul consulate on October 2 after obtaining an appointment to process some paperwork related to his marriage.
The journalist was never to be seen again and Saudi Arabia has changed its narrative on the issue several times since then.
'Journalist left the consulate on his own'
A statement issued by the state-run Saudi Press Agency on October 3, insisted Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after leaving the diplomatic post.
Crown Prince Mohammed in an interview with Bloomberg News reporters published on October 5 also remained adamant that the journalist had left the consulate alive shortly after entering it.
"My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour. I'm not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time," he said.
'Consulate equipped with cameras that do not record'
On October 6, Saudi Arabia’s consul-general in Istanbul, Mohammad al Otaibi, opened up his mission to Reuters in an attempt to show that Khashoggi was not on the premises, and claimed that talk of the journalist's abduction was groundless.
He said the consulate was equipped with cameras but they did not record footage, so no images could be retrieved of Khashoggi entering or leaving the consulate, which is ringed by police barriers and has high-security fences topped with barbed wire.
Hit squad members 'were tourists'
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 on October 10.
A Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al Arabiya claimed that the people identified by the Turkish officials were only tourists who had been falsely accused of involvement in the dissident journalist’s disappearance.
Journalist 'killed by rogue killers'
On October 15, it was reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing a report that would admit that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate during a botched interrogation.
US President Donald Trump also suggested the same day 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.
'Khashoggi died by mistake during a brawl'
After denying any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance for two weeks, Saudi Arabia said on October 19 that preliminary results of investigations showed US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a fight with people he met there, state media reported.
“The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested,” a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding Royal court adviser Saud al Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri have been sacked from their positions.
This marked a shift in the official Saudi narrative that refuted all previous claims by the Gulf kingdom.
'Local collaborator disposed of the body'
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on October 25 that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate this month was premeditated, reversing previous official statements that the killing was unintended.
As Riyadh acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate on October 2, all officials had said about his body is that the assailants gave it to a “local collaborator” for disposal.
Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan had in the meanwhile repeated Ankara’s request for the 18 suspects to be extradited to face trial in Turkey, and asked Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud al Mujeb to disclose the identity of the “local cooperator” who, according to a Saudi official, disposed of Khashoggi’s body
In a written response, Mujeb invited Fidan to Saudi Arabia to question the suspects and determine “the fate of the body” and establish whether the killing was premeditated, the Turkish prosecutor’s statement said.
It said Mujeb’s response also distanced Riyadh from the idea that a “local cooperator” had been involved, saying that Saudi authorities had not made an official statement to that effect.