Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was forced by his would-be killers to send a message to his son who was held in the kingdom by Crown Prince Mohammed binSalman, Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote on Nov. 19 citing latest findings in the Turkish investigation into the murder.
“The team, which was composed of close aides of Crown Prince Mohammed, told Khashoggi to send a message to his son, otherwise he ‘would be brought to Saudi Arabia.’ Khashoggi rejected it, which led to the quarrel that ended with his killing by strangulation with a rope or plastic bag,” Selvi said.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor had requested on Nov. 15 the death penalty for five Saudi officials, while charging a total of 11 suspects, whom he accused of killing Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2.
While indicting the suspects, the prosecutor also claimed that they killed the journalist after a botched attempt aiming either to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia or do it by force after drugging and kidnapping him.
Turkey insists that the hit squad was sent by the highest level Saudi officials to kill Khashoggi.
Selvi, who had earlier reported that Turkey has more evidence, including a second, longer audio recording that contradicts with key findings of the Saudi public prosecutor’s indictment, wrote on Nov. 19 that he could not learn about the content of the message that the Saudi hit squad attempted to force Khashoggi to send his eldest son, Salah.
Amid pressure from the U.S. State Department following the murder, Salah Khashoggi was finally allowed to leave the kingdom, after he was photographed on Oct. 24 with the crown prince during a condolence visit, staring coldly as the pair shook hands.
“It is understood that the 15-member hit squad who came to Turkey had earlier contacted Salah. According to one theory, they wanted to force Khashoggi to send a message to his son to use it as a tool to acquit themselves after the murder,” Selvi wrote.
“If an international investigation can be opened into the murder, then the reason why they forced Khashoggi to send this message can be understood,” he added, stressing that Ankara can provide additional evidence, including international phone traffic of the hit squad.