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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Fresh leaks in Khashoggi case Turkish press runs new pictures 

Saudi Arabia maintains accusations it killed the dissident writer are 'baseless'

Turkish media has published images from Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul of a Saudi delegation arriving on Oct. 2, 2018. AP
Turkish media has published images from Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul of a Saudi delegation arriving on Oct. 2, 2018. AP

Turkish media published images on Wednesday of what is alleged to be a 15-man Saudi “assassination squad” and video of activity outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared a week ago.

Saudi Arabia did not respond to the new images, which while offering little concrete proof about the fate of Mr Khashoggi are likely to intensify pressure on the kingdom to provide answers.

Turkish officials believe Mr Khashoggi – a Saudi Washington Post columnist critical of the kingdom who was previously living in self-imposed exile in Washington – was killed shortly after he entered the consulate on October 2 seeking divorce papers.

Riyadh has dismissed the allegations as “baseless”, saying Mr Khashoggi left the consulate alive shortly after he arrived. His fiancée Hatice Cengiz said she waited for him by the front entrance, and so far, there is no public evidence showing he ever walked out.

Surveillance footage from outside the consulate shows Mr Khashoggi entering the consulate on October 2. Nearly two hours later, according to the time stamp, a black Mercedes Vito with diplomatic license plates, which resembled a van parked outside of the consulate when Mr Khashoggi walked in, drives some 2 kilometres to the consul's home, where it parks inside a garage.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper and other media alleged Wednesday that the Saudi Consulate's 28 local staff were given leave on October 2 on grounds that a "diplomats' meeting" would be held there on that day. The reports did not cite a source and there was no official confirmation of the claim.

The Sabah newspaper, which is close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published images of what it referred to as an "assassination squad" apparently taken at passport control. It said they checked into two hotels in Istanbul on October 2 and left later that day.

The US State Department has said it has no information about Mr Khashoggi’s whereabouts.

"We don't know what has happened to him. We don't have any information on that," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Tuesday. "That's why I want to say, we don't want to make any judgments about what happened, and we call for a thorough and transparent investigation."