Turkish authorities have identified five suspects in its investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, four of whom have ties to the Saudi Arabian government, US media reported.
One of the suspects identified by Turkey is a companion of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and another is a forensic doctor with senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The other three suspects are connected by witness accounts and other records linked to the Saudi crown prince’s security team, the report added.
Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007, is among the suspects, the report said citing a British diplomatic roster. Mutreb traveled constantly with the Saudi crown prince and accompanied him this year on trips to Spain, France and the United States, the report added.
The second suspect is Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hawsawi, who is a member of the security team that travels with the crown prince, the report said citing a French professional who has worked with the Saudi royal family.
The third suspect is identified as Thaar Ghaleb al-Barbi, who in 2017 was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in the Saudi royal guard for his valor in the defense of the crown prince’s palace in Jeddah, according to Saudi media.
A fourth suspect traveled with a passport with the same name of another member of the Saudi royal guard, Muhammed Saad Alzahrani, the report said citing a name search in a popular app in Saudi Arabia called “Menom3ay.” In addition, the report said a video from 2017 shows a guard wearing a name tag with the same name standing next to the crown prince.
The other suspect listed is Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy, an autopsy expert who traveled with a Saudi expedition to Istanbul, which suggests intentions of killing Khashoggi as part of the plan, according to the news outlet.
Turkish officials said, overall, there are 15 suspects, ten of whom still need to be identified. All 15 arrived and left Istanbul on the same day as Khashoggi’s disappearance, the report noted. The suspects were transported on jets chartered by a Saudi company with links to Prince Mohammed and the Saudi Interior Ministry, the report said.
The New York Times confirmed that at least nine of the 15 suspects worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries.
Local media reported that Turkish police will not examine the residence of the Saudi consul in Istanbul as part of an investigation into disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
According to the NTV broadcaster, the examination was not held on Tuesday because Saudi members of the joint working group on investigation into the incident could not take part in the investigative activities. Further details remain unknown.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, went missing on October 2. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he went to receive papers he needed to remarry.
Turkey has expressed concerns that Khashoggi could have been murdered inside the building, while the Saudi government has denied involvement in the case, claiming that the journalist disappeared after he left the consulate.
On Tuesday, the NTV broadcaster reported that the Turkish police had found evidence during their authorized search of the Saudi Consulate showing that Khashoggi had been murdered there.
Saudi Consul General in Istanbul Mohammad Otaibi has left Turkey for Riyadh amid the growing scandal around the disappearance of Khashoggi.