Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about the Saudi journalist’s death

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Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about the Saudi journalist's death

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Media captionJamal Khashoggi: What we know about the journalist's disappearance and death

It has been more than two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government, walked into the country's consulate in Istanbul and disappeared.

Turkish officials believe he was murdered by a team of Saudi agents inside the building and say they have evidence, including gruesome audio recordings, to back this up.

After initial denials and claims that he had left the consulate shortly after arriving, Saudi Arabia now admits the journalist is dead.

Its public prosecutor said a fight had broken out between Mr Khashoggi and people who met him in the consulate, ending with his death.

The steady stream of disturbing allegations, along with the complex diplomatic situation, means that it can be difficult to keep track of the full story.

So here is what we know – and don't know – about the case.

Who was Jamal Khashoggi?

A prominent journalist who covered major stories including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden for various Saudi news organisations.

For decades, he was close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government.

But he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US last year. From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In his first column for the newspaper, Mr Khashoggi said he feared being arrested in an apparent crackdown on dissent overseen by the prince since he became first in line to succeed his father King Salman earlier that year.

"The people being arrested are not even being dissidents, they just have an independent mind," he told the BBC's Newshour programme just three days before he disappeared.

You can read excerpts from some of his columns here.

Why was he at the consulate?

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Media captionCCTV footage shows missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

He first visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 28 September to obtain a document certifying that he had divorced his ex-wife, so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée.

But he was told he would have to return and arranged to come back on 2 October.

"He did not mind walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul because he did not believe that something bad could happen on Turkish soil," his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, wrote in the Washington Post.

"Jamal was hardly concerned ahead of his second visit."

  • The journalist who vanished into a consulate

He was seen on CCTV arriving at 13:14 local time for his appointment, which was scheduled for 13:30.

He reportedly told friends that he had been treated "very warmly" on his first visit and reassured them that he would not face any problems.

Despite this, he gave Ms Cengiz two mobile phones and told her to call an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he did not come back out.

She ultimately waited for more than 10 hours outside the consulate and returned the following morning when Mr Khashoggi had still not reappeared.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The journalist's fiancée Hatice Cengiz said she had waited outside for hours

What does Saudi Arabia say?

For more than two weeks Saudi Arabia consistently denied any knowledge of Mr Khashoggi's fate.

Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg News his government was "very keen to know what [had] happened" to Mr Khashoggi, and that the journalist had left the consulate "after a few minutes or one hour".

"We have nothing to hide," he added.

Prince Mohammed's brother and the Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khaled bin Salman, claimed all reports about his disappearance or death were "completely false and baseless".

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But in the early hours of 20 October, state television reported the journalist had in fact died in the consulate after a fight.

"The investigations are still under way and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," the statement read.

The authorities announced the dismissal of the two senior officials – deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Prince Mohammed.

Saudi King Salman also ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, headed by the crown prince, to restructure the intelligence services in the wake of the initial inquiry.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Saudi consulate initially said Khashoggi left after completing paperwork

What does Turkey say happened to him?

Turkish officials say Mr Khashoggi was tortured and killed on the premises by a team of Saudi agents and that his body was then removed.

They have audio and video evidence to support this claim, a security source told the BBC.

However, the alleged recordings have not been made public.

"You can hear his voice and the voices of the men speaking Arabic," a separate source told the Washington Post. "You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered."

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak has published details of audio recordings which it says show that Mr Khashoggi was tortured.

The newspaper said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on one tape warning the alleged Saudi agents: "Do this outside. You're going to get me in trouble."

"Shut up if you want to live when you return to [Saudi] Arabia," a person can reportedly be heard telling the diplomat on another tape.

An unnamed senior official told the New York Times there was a complex operation in which Mr Khashoggi was killed within two hours of arriving and then dismembered.

Turkish employees at the consul's residence were also "hastily" told to leave on the day Mr Khashoggi disappeared, according to Turkish newspaper Sabah.

Who are the alleged Saudi agents?

Turkish media say they have identified a 15-member team of suspected Saudi agents who flew into and out of Istanbul on the day of the disappearance.

One of the men, Maher Mutreb, served as a colonel in Saudi intelligence and was based at the country's embassy in London, the BBC understands.

Four of the men have links to the Saudi crown prince and another is a senior figure in the country's interior ministry, reports say.

Turkish officials believe the men are Saudi officials and intelligence officers, an allegation that appears to be supported by open source information that is freely available.

They say the group brought a bone saw into the country and that one of its members was a doctor who specialised in post-mortems.

Image copyright AFP

Nine of the agents reportedly arrived on a private jet from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, at around 03:15 on the day Mr Khashoggi visited the consulate.

The rest of the suspected agents are reported to have arrived later that day on a second private jet or on commercial flights. The group then checked in to two hotels near the consulate building.

CCTV footage broadcast by Turkish TV appears to show groups of Saudi men entering the country via Istanbul airport and then checking in to the hotels.

  • Who's who in alleged Saudi 'hit squad'

It also shows vehicles driving up to the consulate an hour before Mr Khashoggi's visit, including black vans thought to be central to inquiries.

One of the vans is reported to have taken some of the men from the consulate to the nearby residence of the Saudi consul about two hours after Mr Khashoggi's arrival.

The group then left the country on the two private jets that flew to Riyadh via Cairo and Dubai, according to investigators.

How 2 October unfolded

This is the timeline of events, according to Turkish media.

Image copyright Getty Images

03:28: The first private jet carrying suspected Saudi agents arrives at Istanbul airport.

05:05: The group is seen checking into two hotels nearby to the Saudi consulate building.

12:13: Several diplomatic vehicles are filmed arriving at the consulate, allegedly carrying some of the Saudi agents.

13:14: Mr Khashoggi enters the building.

15:08: Vehicles leave the consulate and are filmed arriving at the nearby Saudi consul's residence.

17:15: A second private jet carrying a number of suspected Saudi officials lands in Istanbul.

17:33: Mr Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, is seen on CCTV waiting outside the consulate.

18:20: One of the private jets departs from Istanbul airport. The other plane leaves at 21:00.

How much evidence is there?

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Media captionUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Saudis will respond in a "timely fashion"

Turkey has previously said it has audio and video evidence of Mr Khashoggi's murder, which has not yet been made public.

However, after Saudi Arabia gave its version of events on 20 October, Turkey vowed to reveal all the details it has gathered on the killing.

The Turkish foreign minister has until now said the authorities have not shared audio recordings with anyone.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly denied having listened to any recordings.

"I've heard no tape, I've seen no transcript," he told reporters.

How is the Turkish investigation progressing?

Turkish police were allowed to enter the Saudi consulate on 15 October.

They arrived shortly after Saudi officials and a group of cleaners were seen entering the building.

Turkish police have now searched the consulate and the nearby Saudi consul's residence, and have taken samples away for DNA testing.

The police have also searched the nearby Belgrade forest and farmland in Yalova because it is believed at least two vehicles from the Saudi consulate headed in that direction on the day of the suspected killing.

Unnamed Turkish officials say Mr Khashoggi's body may have been disposed of in the forest or on farmland.

Meanwhile, 15 Turkish nationals employed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul have been questioned by prosecutors, state news agency Anadolu reports.

Those giving witness statements included receptionists, technicians, accountants and a driver, the agency said.

After Saudi Arabia gave its own account of the killing, King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to exchange information and continue co-operation in the investigation.

Saudi Arabia said it had acted on information provided by Turkish authorities as part of its inquiry, investigating a number of suspects.

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