Authorities in Turkey believe a Saudi government critic who went missing after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul this week was killed there, a Turkish government official said on Sunday.
The comments by the official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, will likely inflame tensions between Turkey and the Saudi government, already at loggerheads over regional policy. A Saudi official denied the claim.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview last week that Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, had left the building shortly after entering it and that he was ready to allow Turkey to search the consulate.
Speculation that Khashoggi was detained focused new attention on what critics say is a broad crackdown on dissent under Prince Mohammed that has coincided with his attempts to loosen social restrictions and create a more dynamic economy less reliant on oil.
Khashoggi’s murder is believed to have been premeditated and carried out by a team of 15 people flown in from the kingdom, the Turkish official said. The details were also reported by Reuters and the Washington Post.
An official at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul “strongly denounced these baseless allegations,” according to an e-mailed statement. A Saudi delegation has been sent to Turkey to assist “in the investigations regarding the disappearance of the Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi,” according to the statement.