ISTANBUL – Turkey has noted that Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist from Saudi Arabia, was killed earlier this week at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by a Saudi team sent "specifically for the murder".
Turkish investigators believe that a 15-member team "came from Saudi Arabia, it was a premeditated murder," one of the people said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.
They offered no specific evidence to support the report. But last Saturday, Turkey's Anadolu News Agency said that the Istanbul Procuratorate opened an investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.
Saudi Arabia had vehemently denied that Khashoggi had been arrested after joining the consulate.
In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after arriving on Tuesday. Saudi authorities have yet to provide evidence for this allegation.
The disappearance of Khashoggi has drawn attention to Prince Salman's salves on his critics. It also threatened to deepen a divide between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both regional powers that have been competing for influence in the region.
Khashoggi, who writes for The Washington Post's Global Opinions, visited the Consulate on Tuesday to collect documents about his person upcoming Wedding, after his fiancee and friends.
The killing, if confirmed, would be a staggering escalation of Saudi Arabia's efforts to silence dissidents. Under the leadership of the Crown Prince, the Saudi authorities have carried out hundreds of arrests under the banner of national security and have drawn together clerics, businessmen and even women's rights activists.
But analysts said that Khashoggi could have been considered particularly dangerous by the Saudi leadership because he was not a longtime dissident but a supporter of the Saudi establishment, which for decades was close to the ruling circles when editor worked in Saudi news channels was a consultant a former Saudi intelligence chief.
Over the past year, Khashoggi has repeatedly criticized the Saudi leadership, including the arrest of right-wing activists who have campaigned to give women the right to drive.
In his interview with Bloomberg, Mohammed acknowledged the scale of the wave of arrests and said that over 1,500 people had been detained over the past three years, but he portrayed the suspects as threats to national security rather than political opponents.
"Most of their cases have nothing to do with freedom of speech and most of them will return to their homes after the trial ends," he said.