ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish pro-government newspaper Sabah said on Wednesday it had identified a 15-member intelligence team it said was involved in the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was last seen a week ago entering the consulate in Istanbul to get documents related to his forthcoming marriage. His fiancée, waiting outside, said he never emerged and Turkish sources said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission.
Saudi Arabia has dismissed as baseless accusations that it killed or abducted Khashoggi. Saudi authorities have so far not commented on the 15 nationals reported to have come to Turkey.
A Turkish security source had previously told Reuters that a group of 15 Saudi nationals, including some officials, arrived in Istanbul and entered the consulate on Oct. 2, the same day Khashoggi was there, and later left the country.
Sabah newspaper published the names and years of birth of 15 Saudis it said arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on Oct. 2. Twelve of them arrived early on the Tuesday, based on photos captured at passport control which it published. The 15 departed at four different times, Sabah reported.
It did not say how it obtained the pictures and data.
The report also said that the Saudis stayed at the Wyndham and Movenpick hotels in Istanbul, in the same neighbourhood as the Saudi consulate. Both hotels declined to comment on the report.
One of the men identified by name and photo in the Sabah report is a Saudi forensic expert, according to Saudi media reports, and is on the board of the Saudi Society of Forensic Medicine.
Turkish NTV broadcast videos of what it said were the men arriving at the airport and checking into one hotel, as well as videos of what it said was a large van arriving at the consul general’s residence two hours after Khashoggi had entered the consulate.
(Reporting by Daren Butler, Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin, Writing by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Dominic Evans and Andrew Heavens)