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Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Thursday that the death of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been “premeditated,” the latest change in the kingdom’s official story of how he was killed.
Saudi officials previously said that a 15-man team that had flown to Turkey to confront Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2, leading to a “fistfight” with Khashoggi. When he screamed, one of the men put him in a chokehold, killing him accidentally, they had said, reports agencies.
The Saudi prosecutor’s new statement, which was announced through the kingdom’s state-run news media, said the conclusion was based on new information received from a joint Saudi-Turkish investigation taking place in Turkey.
The latest change is almost certain to cast further doubt on the kingdom’s explanation of what happened to Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia’s narrative has already been met with widespread skepticism, not least by President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
Turkish officials have said that the team killed Khashoggi soon after he entered the consulate and then dismembered his body with a bone saw for disposal.
They have leaked to the news media the names of the men on the Saudi team as well as photos of them arriving at the airport and moving around Istanbul. They also released photos this week of a Saudi “body double” wearing Khashoggi’s clothes and walking around Istanbul shortly after his death, in an attempt to leave a trail of surveillance footage suggesting that he was still alive.
Khashoggi’s body has not been found.