In change of tack, Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi's murder 'premeditated'


Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said investigators concluded that Khashoggi's killing was a premeditated crime after reviewing evidence presented by Turkish officials as part of a joint investigation, according to a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Erdogan has said Saudi officials made "reconnaissance" trips to the forest as well as the city of Yalova a day before Khashoggi was killed.

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The kingdom admitted on Saturday - 18 days after the incident - that Khashoggi indeed died in the consulate but blamed the death on a "fistfight" and said more than a dozen people were being questioned.

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The eldest son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Salah, and his family have left the Gulf kingdom after the government lifted a travel ban, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump, the kingdom's staunchest Western ally, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying Prince Mohammed bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Khashoggi's death. The crown prince, known as MBS, has denied that he had any involvement in Khashoggi's death, although the Turkish government has claimed that his murder was ordered at the highest levels of Saudi government.

"Information from the Turkish side affirms that the suspects in Khashoggi's case premeditated their crime", said the statement carried by state TV.

His departure comes after Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman met Salah and Khashoggi´s brother Sahel at the royal palace in Riyadh on Tuesday.

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The prince promised on Wednesday the killers would be brought to justice, his first public comments on the matter.

USA intelligence officials and lawmakers as well as the European Union have said that an operation targeting a critic of the royal court in a foreign country is unlikely to have been ordered without the knowledge of senior Saudi officials.

Salah, a dual US-Saudi citizen, will be joined in the United States by his other siblings who are based there, friends of the family told AFP.

A photograph of the meeting showed Salah staring coldly at the prince as the pair shook hands. He was speaking at the Saudi investment conference in Riyadh dubbed "Davos in the Desert".

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But striking a defiant tone, the crown prince told worldwide investors at the three-day conference on Wednesday that the furore would not derail the kingdom's reform drive.