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Timeline: Disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

The Washington Post writer is believed to have been killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A security guard enters Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul (AP)
A security guard enters Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul (AP)

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the kingdom’s policies and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

Turkish officials claim that a 15-man team tortured, killed and dismembered the writer, while Saudi Arabia maintains the 59-year-old died in a “fistfight”.

Here are some key moments in the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist:

– September 2017:

The Post publishes the first column by Mr Khashoggi in its newspaper, in which the former royal court insider and longstanding journalist writes about going into self-imposed exile in the US over the rise of Prince Mohammed. His later columns criticise the prince and the kingdom’s direction.

The UK said Saudi Arabia’s initial explanation about Jamal Khashoggi’s death was ‘not credible’

– September 28 2018:

Over a year after the Post published his first column, Mr Khashoggi visits the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, seeking documents in order to get married. He is later told to return on October 2, his fiancee Hatice Cengiz says.

– September 29:

Mr Khashoggi travels to London and speaks at a conference.

– October 1:

Mr Khashoggi returns to Istanbul.

Footage of Mr Khashoggi arriving at the consulate (AP)

– October 2 2018 – the day of his disappearance

– 3.28am: A private plane arrives at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport carrying some members of what Turkish media later refer to as a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad”, including a man officials describe as a forensics and “autopsy expert”. Others arrive via commercial flights, Turkish officials say.

– 1.14pm: Surveillance footage later leaked to Turkish media shows Mr Khashoggi walking into the main entrance of the Saudi consulate. No footage made public ever shows him leaving and his fiancee waits outside, pacing for hours.

– 3.07pm: Surveillance footage shows vehicles with diplomatic licence plates leaving the Saudi consulate for the consul general’s home just over a mile away.

– 7pm: A private plane just arrived from Saudi Arabia carries six members of the alleged Saudi squad from Istanbul to Cairo, returning to Riyadh the next day.

– 11pm: Seven members of the alleged Saudi squad leave on the other private jet to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which the next day returns to Riyadh. Two others leave by commercial flights.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to reveal more details over the death (AP)

– October 3:

Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee and the Washington Post go public with his disappearance. Saudi Arabia says Mr Khashoggi visited the consulate and left shortly thereafter. Turkish officials suggest Mr Khashoggi might still be in the consulate. That night, Prince Mohammed tells Bloomberg: “We have nothing to hide.”

– October 4:

Saudi Arabia says on its state-run news agency that the consulate is carrying out “follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building”.

– October 5:

The Post prints a blank column in its newspaper in solidarity with Mr Khashoggi, headlined: “A missing voice.”

A man identified by Turkish officials as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, right, pictured at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul (AP)

– October 6:

The Post, citing anonymous Turkish officials, reports Mr Khashoggi may have been killed in the consulate in a “pre-planned murder” by a Saudi team.

– October 7:

A friend of Khashoggi tells the Associated Press that officials told him Mr Khashoggi was killed at the consulate. The consulate rejects what it calls “baseless allegations”.

– October 8:

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey is summoned over Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged killing.

– October 9:

Turkey says it will search the Saudi consulate as a picture of Mr Khashoggi walking into the diplomatic post surfaces.

Barriers block the road leading to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (AP)

– October 10:

Surveillance footage is leaked of Mr Khashoggi and the alleged Saudi squad that killed him. Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee asks US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump for help.

– October 11:

Turkish media describes Saudi squad as including royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and a post-mortem examinations expert. Mr Trump calls Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance a “bad situation”, and promises to get to the bottom of it.

– October 12:

Mr Trump again pledges to find out what happened to Mr Khashoggi.

– October 13:

A pro-government newspaper reports that Turkish officials have an audio recording of Mr Khashoggi’s alleged killing obtained from his Apple Watch, but details in the report come into question.

We're going to get to the bottom of it Donald Trump

– October 14:

Mr Trump tells CBS’s 60 Minutes that “we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia is involved. The kingdom responds with a blistering attack against those who threaten it, as the manager of a Saudi-owned satellite news channel suggests the country could retaliate through its oil exports. The Saudi stock exchange plunges as much as 7% at one point.

– October 15:

A Turkish forensics team enters and searches the Saudi consulate, an extraordinary development as such diplomatic posts are considered sovereign soil. Mr Trump suggests after a call with Saudi King Salman that “rogue killers” could be responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s death. Mr Trump says his secretary of state Mike Pompeo will travel to the Middle East to investigate the case. Meanwhile, business leaders say they will not attend an upcoming economic summit in the kingdom which was the brainchild of Prince Mohammed.

– October 16:

A high-level Turkish official tells the Associated Press that “certain evidence” was found in the Saudi consulate proving Mr Khashoggi was killed there. Mr Pompeo arrives for meetings in Saudi Arabia with King Salman and Prince Mohammed. Meanwhile, Mr Trump compares the case to the appointment of now-US supreme court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, saying: “Here we go again with ‘you’re guilty until proven innocent’.”

Turan Kislakci, head of the Turkish-Arab media association and a friend of Mr Khashoggi talks to the media near the consulate (AP)

– October 17:

Mr Pompeo meets Turkey’s president and foreign minister in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Turkish police search the official residence of Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul and conduct a second sweep of the consulate.

– October 18:

A leaked surveillance photograph shows a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage during several trips abroad walking into the consulate just before Mr Khashoggi vanished there.

– October 20:

Saudi Arabia for the first time acknowledges Mr Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, claiming he died in a “fistfight”. The claim draws immediate scepticism from the kingdom’s Western allies, particularly in the US congress.

– October 22:

Newly-leaked surveillance footage shows a man appearing to wear Mr Khashoggi’s clothes leaving the consulate after his killing there. Another report says a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office around the same time.



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