The barbaric and indiscriminate killing of Saudi journalist and political columnist Jamal Khashoggi has brought the world’s censure on Saudi Arabia. The elaborate plot that culminated in the killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 – was apparently carried out to silence his critical voice. But even the Saudis have admitted that it has backfired spectacularly.
The Turkish probe into the killing has ensured that the Saudi narrative has been rejected even by the country’s strongest ally in the West – the Trump Administration. U.S. President Donald Trump called Riyadh’s attempts at covering up the Khashoggi killing the “worst cover-up in the history of cover-ups.”
Almost three weeks to the day after Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate and never walked out, public prosecutors in Riyadh have now admitted that the plan to kill Khashoggi was “premeditated.” However, the whereabouts of his body are still unknown.
Reuters and AFP news agencies reported, citing Saudi state media that "Information from the Turkish authorities indicates that the act of the suspects in the Khashoggi case was premeditated," the public prosecutor said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
"The public prosecution continues its investigation with suspects ... to complete the court of justice."
Prosecutors are interrogating suspects on the basis of information provided by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force, the report said.
This turn from its initial statement that Jamal Khashoggi died after a “fistfight” in the Saudi Consulate comes as pressure continues unabated to find out the truth about what happened on October 2.
CIA Director Gina Haspel was in Turkey to meet with her Turkish counterparts to verify the evidence they have collected on Khashoggi’s killing. She has reportedly also heard the audio/video evidence that Turkey has that makes a compelling case and proves that Khashoggi was killed within minutes of him entering the Saudi consulate building.
She has since returned to Washington and briefed Donald Trump, the U.S. State Department said.
"The president received a briefing from Director Haspel this morning following her return from Turkey. She briefed the president on their [Turks'] findings and her discussions," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
It also looks like the UN could get involved as the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said Khashoggi's killing bears the hallmark of an extrajudicial execution.
"What we know is sufficient to suggest very strongly that Mr Khashoggi was the victim of an extrajudicial execution and that the Saudi Arabia government is implicated in one way or another," Agnes Callamard told Al Jazeera.
Callamard called for an international investigation into Khashoggi's murder earlier in the day at a UN session in New York City.