REPORT: Saudis to Claim Journalist Died after Interrogation Gone Wrong

Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London, September 29, 2018 ( Middle East Monitor via Reuters )

The Saudi government is preparing to release a report that will indicate journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed during an unapproved interrogation session that went awry, CNN reported Monday.

Khashoggi, a prominent former Saudi insider who recently pivoted toward criticizing the kingdom, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to finalize paperwork required for his upcoming marriage, but never emerged.

Turkish officials have accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering Khashoggi’s assassination at the hands of a 15-person team of assassins flown into Turkey hours before his disappearance. After initially denying any involvement, Saudi officials are expected to claim in the forthcoming report that Khashoggi was supposed to be transported back to Saudi Arabia but died sometime before or during the trip. The report is also expected to include some mention of punishment for those who attempted to interrogate and abduct Khashoggi without authorization from the crown prince.

President Trump appeared to accept Monday morning bin Salman’s denial of involvement, suggesting instead that a team of “rogue killers” may be responsible.

“I just spoke to the king of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place with regard to, as he said, his Saudi Arabian citizen. He firmly denies that,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “We are going to leave nothing uncovered. With that being said, the king firmly denies any knowledge of it. . . . It sounded to me like this could have been rogue killers. Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it. But his was a flat denial.”

Saudi officials allowed Turkish investigators into the consulate for the first time Monday to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia Monday to meet with bin Salman regarding the disappearance.

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