Turkish security officials say Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on orders from the royal court, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Citing an unnamed Turkish security official, the Times reported Khashoggi was killed in a gruesome operation within two hours of his arrival at the consulate by a team of Saudi agents who dismembered his body with a bone saw.
"It is like 'Pulp Fiction,'" the official told the Times.
Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have denied the allegations, insisting Khashoggi left the consulate freely shortly after he arrived. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has demanded the Saudis provide evidence proving their claim.
It remains unclear how the Turkish government determined Khashoggi had been killed, but the conclusion the Saudi royal court ordered the hit could increase the pressure on both sides of the dispute, the Times reported.
The Turkish security establishment concluded Khashoggi's killing was directed from the top because only the most senior Saudi leaders could order an operation of such scale and complexity, the Times' source said.
According to the Times account, 15 Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights last Tuesday, the day Khashoggi disappeared. All 15 left just a few hours later, and Turkey has now identified the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services, the unnamed source told the Times.
One was an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body, the official said.
Erdogan was informed of the conclusions Saturday, the Times reported, citing unnamed sources — and he has since dispatched officials to anonymously tell news outlets, including the Times.
Erdogan himself has not publicly accused Saudi Arabia of killing Khashoggi. Nor has the Turkish president disclosed specific evidence to back up that allegation.
Another source told the Times on Saturday that Turkish intelligence had obtained a video of the killing, made by the Saudis to prove it had occurred.
"There is a video of the moment of him being killed," Kemal Ozturk, a columnist in a pro-government newspaper and the former head of a semiofficial news agency, said in an interview on a pro-government television network Tuesday, the Times reported.
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