Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Man linked to Saudi prince was at consulate: report

CSI ISTANBUL:The latest report came as crime-scene investigators finished an overnight search of the consul general’s residence and a second search of the consulate

AP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

Forensic police officers search for evidence at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

A man who previously traveled with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage to the US entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, just before writer Jamal Khashoggi vanished there, according to images published yesterday by a pro-government Turkish newspaper.

The Sabah report also showed the man later outside the Saudi Arabian consul general’s home, checking out of a Turkish hotel as a large suitcase stood by his side and leaving Turkey on Oct. 2.

The report came as Turkish crime-scene investigators finished an overnight search of the consul general’s residence and a second search of the consulate itself amid Ankara’s fears that Saudi Arabian authorities had Khashoggi killed and dismembered inside the diplomatic mission in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia, which initially called the allegations “baseless,” has not responded to repeated requests for comment over recent days, including yesterday.

The Sabah report showed the man walking past police barricades at the consulate at 9:55am with several men trailing behind him.

Khashoggi arrived at the consulate several hours later, at 1:14pm, then disappeared while his fiancee waited outside for him.

A report on Wednesday by the pro-government Yeni Safak, citing what it described as an audio recording of Khashoggi’s slaying, said a Saudi Arabian team immediately accosted the 60-year-old journalist after he entered the consulate, cutting off his fingers and later decapitating him.

Previously leaked surveillance footage showed consular vehicles moving from the consulate to the consul general’s official residence, about 2km away, a little under two hours after Khashoggi walked inside.

The Sabah showed an image of the man at 4:53pm at the consul general’s home, then at 5:15pm checking out of a hotel.

He later cleared airport security at 5:58pm.

Security services in Turkey have used pro-government media to leak details of Khashoggi’s case, adding to the pressure on the kingdom.

The Associated Press could not immediately verify the man’s identity, though he is one of the individuals previously identified by Turkish authorities as being involved in the 15-man Saudi Arabian team that targeted Khashoggi.

Images shot by the Houston Chronicle and later distributed show the same man was in Prince Mohammed’s entourage when he visited a Houston subdivision in April to see rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Harvey.

The three-week trip across the US saw Prince Mohammed meet with business leaders and celebrities, including Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who now owns the Washington Post.

The searches and the leaks in Turkish media have ensured the world’s attention remains focused on what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who went into self-imposed exile in the US over the rise of Prince Mohammed.

Flying back home after a visit to both Saudi Arabia and Turkey, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday remained positive about an ongoing Saudi Arabian probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance, but he stressed that answers are needed.

“Sooner’s better than later for everyone,” Pompeo said.

US President Donald Trump, who initially came out hard on the Saudi Arabians over the disappearance, but has since backed off, on Wednesday said that the US wanted Turkey to turn over any audio or video recording it had of Khashoggi’s alleged killing “if it exists.”

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