Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a strangulation and his body was rolled up in a carpet and smuggled out of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for disposal, a senior Saudi government official said.
Meanwhile, a member of the 15-man team sent from the kingdom to face Khashoggi on October 2 dressed in his clothes to make it look as if he had left the building alive.
The senior government official presented a new version of Khashoggi's death that, in many ways, contradicts the previous explanations, as Saudi Arabia faced increasing international skepticism about its story about the journalist's death.
The latest account, provided by a Saudi official who requested anonymity, includes details on how the team threatened Khashoggi with drugging and kidnapping and then killed him in a strangulation when he resisted.
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Jamal Khashoggi (pictured) was killed in a strangulation and his body was rolled up on a carpet and smuggled out of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a senior Saudi government official said.
After denying any participation in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for two weeks, Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that he had died in a fight at the consulate.
An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a strangulation, which the senior official reiterated.
Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist and critic of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his next marriage.
Days later, Turkish officials said they believed he was killed in the building and that his body was cut.
But the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a carpet and handed over to a "local cooperator" for disposal.
When asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said the preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that.
The Saudi official presented what he said were internal Saudi intelligence documents that appeared to describe an initiative to bring dissidents to their home in Saudi Arabia, including the specific one related to Khashoggi.
He also showed the testimony of those involved in what he described as the cover-up of the 15-man team and the initial results of an internal investigation.
CCTV footage shows journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his girlfriend Hatice Cengiz together, a few hours before his death, on October 2.
The CCTV video shows a black van in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2
A journalist shoots a video behind the barriers blocking the road leading to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi died.
The official said that all 15 members of the team had been arrested and placed under investigation, along with three other local suspects.
However, he did not provide evidence to substantiate the findings of the investigation and the other tests.
This narrative is the last Saudi account that has changed several times.
According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago for fear of reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the enemies of the country. said the official.
To that end, said the official, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, gathered a team of 15 members of the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet with Khashoggi at the consulate and try convince him To return to Saudi Arabia.
& # 39; There is a permanent order to peacefully negotiate the return of dissidents; What gives them the authority to act without returning to leadership, "said the official.
Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, (pictured) said she had given him her two cell phones and left him instructions to wait for him and to call an assistant to the president of Turkey if he did not reappear.
"Asiri is the one who formed the team and asked for an employee to work with (the senior real adviser Saud) al-Qahtani and to meet Jamal from the moment they both worked at the embassy in London," he said.
The official said that Qahtani, who worked for the crown prince, had signed one of his employees who was conducting the negotiations.
According to the plan, the team could hold Khashoggi in a safe house outside Istanbul for "a period of time," but then release him if he finally refused to return to Saudi Arabia, the official said.
Things went wrong from the beginning when the team overcame their orders and quickly used violence, the official said.
Khashoggi was taken to the consul general's office where an agent named Maher Mutreb spoke with him about his return to Saudi Arabia, according to the government report.
Khashoggi refused and told Mutreb that someone was waiting for him outside and that he would contact the Turkish authorities if he did not reappear in an hour, the official said.
According to the latest version of the death, the Saudi government wanted to convince Khashoggi (pictured), who moved to Washington a year ago for fear of reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom
Khashoggi's girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, told Reuters she had given him her two cell phones and instructed him to wait for him and to call an assistant to the president of Turkey if he did not reappear.
Inside the consul's office, according to the official's account, Khashoggi told Mutreb that he was violating diplomatic norms and said: "What are you going to do with me? Do you plan to kidnap me?
Mutreb replied: "Yes, we will drug you and kidnap you", in what the official said was an intimidation attempt that violated the objective of the mission.
When Khashoggi raised his voice, the team panicked.
They moved to contain him, placing him in a stranglehold and covering his mouth, according to the government's account.
"They tried to keep him from screaming, but he died," the official said. & # 39; The intention was not to kill him. & # 39;
Asked if the team had suffocated Khashoggi, the official said: "If you put someone of Jamal's age in this position, he will probably die."
To cover up their crime, the team rolled up Khashogui's body on a carpet, removed it in a consular vehicle and handed it over to a "local cooperator" for disposal, the official said.
The Saudi official said the local cooperator is a resident of Istanbul, but would not reveal his nationality.
Forensic expert Salah Tubaigy tried to eliminate any trace of the incident, the official said.
Turkish officials suspect that the body of Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist and critic of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (photographed arriving in Downing Street earlier this year), was cut off
Meanwhile, agent Mustafa Madani put on Khashogli's clothes, eyeglasses and Apple Watch, and went out the back door of the consulate to make it look like Khashoggi had left the building.
Madani went to the Sultanahmet district, where he got rid of the belongings.
The official said that the team then wrote a false report to the superiors in which he said that they had allowed Khashoggi to leave once he noticed that the Turkish authorities could get involved and that they had left the country before they could be discovered.
When asked why the government's version of Khashogui's death was still changing, the official told Reuters that the government's initial account was based on "false information reported internally at that time."
"Once it became clear that the mission's initial reports were false, it initiated an internal investigation and refrained from making further public comments," the official said, adding that the investigation continues.
Saudi authorities initially rejected reports that Khashoggi had disappeared as a fake inside the consulate and said he had left the building shortly after entering.
When the media reported a few days after he was murdered there, they called the accusations "unfounded."
An activist dressed as the crown prince of the Saudi crown Mohammad bin Salman marches in front of the White House during a demonstration to demand sanctions against Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Turkish sources say authorities in Turkey have an audio recording that allegedly documents Khashoggi's murder inside the consulate, but has not disclosed it.
The official Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak published what he said were details of the audio. He said that Khashoggi's torturers cut off their fingers during interrogation and then they decapitated him and dismembered him.
Turkish officials told Reuters that the killers of Khashoggi may have dumped their remains in the Belgrad forest, adjacent to Istanbul, and in a rural area near the city of Yalova, 55 miles south of Istanbul.
It is likely that Turkish researchers will discover what happened to the body "in a short time," said a senior official.
The Saudi official said investigators were trying to determine where the body ended.
Riad sent a high-level delegation to Istanbul on Tuesday and ordered an internal investigation.
Meanwhile, skeptics have asked why so many people, including military officers and a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, were part of the operation if the goal was to convince Khashoggi to return home of his own free will.
The disappearance of Khashoggi, a Saudi who became critical, became a massive crisis for the kingdom, forcing the 82-year-old monarch, King Salman, to become personally involved.
It has threatened the kingdom's business relations, with several high-level executives and government officials rejecting an investor conference in Riyadh scheduled for next week.
Brexit secretary Dominic Raab said Saudi Arabia's explanation of Khashoggi's death at the Istanbul consulate in Saudi Arabia is not credible.
US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he was not satisfied with the handling of Khashogui's death by Saudi Arabia and said the questions remain unanswered.
Some US lawmakers are pressuring Trump to impose sanctions and stop the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Germany and France called on Saturday to explain the kingdom of how Khashoggi died incomplete.