Some areas have been repainted at the Saudi consulate where missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was last seen alive, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said, as investigators prepared to enter the nearby Saudi consul’s house after the diplomat left the country.
Erdoğan told reporters on Tuesday that police had found evidence of toxic materials and signs that some surfaces had been repainted at the consulate where investigators say the missing journalist was killed.
“My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” he said.
Turkish officials have asserted that a Saudi hit team killed Khashoggi earlier this month after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. On Monday, forensic experts had their first chance to comb the site, and they now plan to expand the searches to diplomatic vehicles and the main residence.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Washington Post contributing journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia where he was to be detained, U.S. intercepts show. The whole torture, dismemberment, and death inside the Saudi embassy thing that apparently happened was a rendition gone bad, according to this report.
From Shane Harris at the Washington Post, whose reporting is based on descriptions of U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan:
The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.
A former U.S. intelligence official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a “rendition,” in which someone is extralegally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.
But Turkish officials have concluded that whatever the intent of the operation, Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Investigators have not found his body, but Turkish officials have released video surveillance footage of Khashoggi entering the consulate on the afternoon of Oct. 2. There is no footage that shows him leaving, they said.
The intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi have raised questions about whether the Trump administration should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.
Intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to 2015 federal directive. “The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident,” Harris writes.