Turkish paper names 15 Saudis in Khashoggi case

Turkish paper names 15 Saudis in Khashoggi case

Turkish media close to the president published images on Wednesday of what it described as a 15-member "assassination squad" allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The move added pressure on close US ally Riyadh to provide more information on the whereabouts of the prominent critic of Saudi policies, whose disappearance has sparked global concern.

Turkish police investigating the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi believe he was killed inside the consulate by 15 Saudis who visited October 2, and left the country the same day. His fiancée, waiting outside, said he never emerged and Turkish sources said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission.

The Trump administration - which has moved the US closer to ally Saudi Arabia during its tenure - has expressed concern about the incident but has refused to even to entertain questions about what the consequences would be if allegations turn out to be true.

One of the 15 Saudis identified by name and photo in the report by Sabah newspaper is a forensic expert who has worked at the Saudi Interior Ministry for 20 years, according to a LinkedIn profile and Saudi media, and serves on the board of the Saudi Society of Forensic Medicine.

Minutes after their arrival at Ataturk International Airport, two cars can be seen taking the men to Gate E, where eight of them are seen on camera passing through passport control.

The Saudi consulate referred Reuters to authorities in Riyadh who have not responded to questions about the 15 Saudis, who arrived in the city hours before he went missing on October 2.

Surveillance footage aired by Turkish media on Wednesday purports to show a team of Saudis arriving in Istanbul the day Jamal Khashoggi went missing, a black van leaving the Saudi Consulate after he entered, and the team checking out and departing the country later that night. Politicians in the United States, Riyadh's main ally, have warned that any harm done to the Washington Post contributor will jeopardize America's relations with the world's largest oil exporter.

"They've got some explaining to do", he said of Saudi Arabia, adding he did not wish to rush to judgment.

Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt's show that the United States would send Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to the consulate to investigate if the Saudis requested it.

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The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that it did not dismiss the possibility that Khashoggi's sudden disappearance was an attempt to silence the writer.

Turkey's Daily Sabah newspaper released the names of the suspects who supposedly arrived on two private jets and stayed at two hotels close to the consulate awaiting Khashoggi.

The Arab21 news website reported that the author paid a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, but was told by officials at the time to return at a later date to complete an application related to a family matter.

It did not say how it obtained the pictures and data.

Bin Salman said late on Friday that he was ready to allow Turkey to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for the missing journalist.

Footage time-stamped 4:51 a.m. and 4:53 a.m. shows the men, carrying small carry-on bags, checking into the Movenpick hotel near the consulate.

Aksam said they left their hotel later in the morning. A man with a light blazer outside the consulate bows slightly as the writer enters the building.

A map shows the van's route from the consulate to the nearby official residence of the Saudi consul general, where CCTV footage shows it arriving at 3:07 p.m.

However, Saudi Arabia has offered no evidence to support its contention that the writer left the consulate unharmed and vanished into Istanbul while his fiancée waited impatiently outside. "To me.it feels very much some nefarious activity has occurred by them".

A State Department spokesman said Wednesday the US had no advance notice of Khashoggi's disappearance.

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