TURKISH TELEVISION HAS released CCTV footage showing the moment missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul and the movements of a team suspected of involvement in his disappearance.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, vanished on October 2 after entering the consulate to obtain official documents ahead of his marriage to his Turkish fiancee.
Government sources said at the weekend that police believed Khashoggi was killed by a team specially sent to Istanbul, thought to consist of 15 Saudis.
But Riyadh insisted the 59-year-old journalist had left the building and the murder claims were “baseless”.
Khashoggi, a former Saudi government adviser, had been living in the United States since last year fearing possible arrest.
He has been critical of some policies of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh’s intervention in the war in Yemen.
Turkish police were looking into two private aircraft that landed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on 2 October at different times carrying the individuals of interest in the case.
Officers have been examining 150 cameras one by one to find any details about the disappearance.
The Turkish foreign ministry said yesterday that Saudi authorities gave them the green light to search the consulate but it has not yet taken place.
One of the first images from the CCTV footage shared by 24 TV broadcaster on Wednesday showed a man believed to be Khashoggi enter the consulate at 1.14pm (10.14am GMT).
Footage also showed some of the Saudis arriving in Istanbul after the first plane landed before 12.30am GMT on 2 October and the men later checking into a hotel. Aksam daily said some of the men went into the Saudi consulate before Khashoggi.
According to the images, a vehicle that went inside the consulate then went to the consul-general’s residence nearby after 12pm GMT, two hours after Khashoggi had entered the mission.
Aksam newspaper’s editor-in-chief Murat Kelkitlioglu speculated on 24 TV that Khashoggi had been taken in the vehicle, adding: “It is almost certain he is in the minibus.”
Local media reported yesterday on the possibility that Khashoggi was kidnapped and taken aboard one of the private planes.
Both planes later returned to Riyadh with one stopping in Dubai and the other in Egypt, pro-government Sabah daily said.
According to Hurriyet daily, nine Saudis who arrived in Istanbul on the same day that the journalist vanished had bought luggage at the Grand Bazaar. However, a police search revealed that they did not take the luggage on their return.
Today, Sabah daily published the names and images of what it called the “assassination team” including a man called Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, whose name it said matched that of a lieutenant-colonel in the Saudi forensic department.
Sabah added that no “body parts” appeared on scans of the belongings of seven passengers of relevance to the case at Istanbul airport.