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USA intercepted Saudi plans to capture missing journalist, report says

USA intercepted Saudi plans to capture missing journalist, report says

Associated Press This image taken from CCTV video obtained by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and made available on Oct. 9 claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2.

Turkish officials say they fear Khashoggi was killed, an allegation dismissed as "baseless" by Saudi Arabia.

It was reported on Tuesday that the six cars that left the consulate, several hours after Khashoggi had entered, stopped for several hours at the nearby Saudi consul general's residence, a site that has now become a focal point of the investigation into what happened to him.

Turkey's public broadcaster TRT World has obtained video footage which shows the Saudi government critic Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate on October 2nd.

However, Saudi Arabia has offered no evidence to support its contention that the writer left the consulate unharmed and vanished into Istanbul while his fiancée waited impatiently outside.

Sabah newspaper published the names and years of birth of 15 Saudis it said arrived at Istanbul's Ataturk airport on October 2. After a brief search, Turkish security officials, showing CCTV footage say, the two planes carrying the 15 Saudis departed Istanbul.

Protesters hold posters of Khashoggi during a demonstration organized by members of the Turkish-Arabic Media Association at the entrance to the consulate on Monday.

The Saudis wanted to lure him back to Saudi Arabia, but it was unclear if they meant to arrest and question him or kill him, or whether he was warned of the threat by the USA, the newspaper said.

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.




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

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who has written columns critical of the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went missing on October 2 after entering the consulate for paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Sabah daily on Wednesday published the names and images of what it called the "assassination team" including a man called Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy whose name it said matched that of a lieutenant-colonel in the Saudi forensic department.

A total of 25 to 30 professional and non-professional journalists are now believed to be detained in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the organisation also said.

The private jets flew out of Istanbul - with one going to Egypt and the other to Dubai.

Before Khashoggi disappeared, USA intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to grab him, the Washington Post reported.

But that's not enough for Khashoggi's fiance, who wrote an op-ed Tuesday imploring "President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance".

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Tuesday that Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were "open to cooperation" and would allow the consulate building to be searched.