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Turkish prosecutor: Khashoggi strangled immediately at Saudi consulate

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Protesters demonstrate outside the White House on October 19 to call attention to the disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4a1ddd34a378fb5011e702795ace57b7/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Protesters demonstrate outside the White House on October 19 to call attention to the disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A Turkish prosecutor said Wednesday evidence indicates that slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled almost as soon as he walked into a consulate in Istanbul this month.

Irfan Fidan, Istanbul's chief prosecutor, said a Saudi "hit team" at the government building ultimately dismembered the dissident writer with a bone saw.

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Fidan pressured Saudi prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb Wednesday to reveal the location of Khashoggi's body, but said he has received no response. Discussions with al-Mojeb produced no "concrete results" despite "good-willed efforts" by Turkey, Fidan said.

Mojeb has refused to answer questions about Khashoggi's body and won't identify a "local collaborator" in the case. Authorities, though, have arrested 18 people in the case but won't extradite them -- opting instead to put them on trial in Saudi Arabia trials.

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The new details Wednesday came just hours after Khashoggi's fiancee detailed the journalist's disappearance in her first interview with U.S. news media.

She said Khashoggi knew it was risky to visit the Turkey consulate, but he needed a document for his wedding.

Hatice Cengiz told ABC News Tuesday night Khashoggi first went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four days before his disappearance, and saw no signs of trouble.

RELATED Saudi Arabia to prosecute suspects in Khashoggi death, won't extradite

"He thought of the possibility of them capturing him," Cengiz said, adding that consulate staff on Sept. 28 were so cordial it made the U.S.-based reporter homesick for Saudi Arabia.

The Washington Post writer and frequent critic of Saudi leadership returned to the building Oct. 2 and was killed.

"Our second visit was full of hope and it was the last step to our union," Cengiz said. "We were going to get the official paper and we were going to get married."

RELATED Son of slain reporter leaves Saudi Arabia for U.S.; Turkey demands answers

Cengiz said she waited hours for Khashoggi to emerge, until the consulate closed. It would be another 17 days before Saudi officials confirmed Khashoggi died, though their details have changed multiple times.

"This was the first day I said to myself perhaps there could be a tragedy," Cengiz said. "When Saudi officials accepted the responsibility, then I believed it happened."

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Turkish intelligence officials say Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered after visiting the consulate. His body has not been recovered.

The Washington Post editorial board, for whom Khashoggi worked, is demanding answers from Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration.

Turkish intelligence said it's shared an audio recording of Khashoggi's death with CIA Director Gina Haspel, who briefed President Donald Trump when she returned to Washington, D.C. In the recording, Khashoggi is assaulted and mutilated before he's injected with a drug.

"Rather than answer those questions, the Saudi government -- and its de facto accomplices in the Trump administration -- have gone silent," the Post's board wrote Tuesday. "Evidently hoping that demands for accountability will fade away now that the story has been pushed from the front pages. That should not be allowed to happen."

Turkey has implicated two of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's closest aides and five members of his security detail.

Asked if politics would triumph over the truth in this case, Cengiz said "yes," and she called on Trump to order a thorough investigation.

"The president of the United States has to look at this from the point of view of humanity and consider it an international tragedy, and it should come before international politics and diplomacy," she said.

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A group of senators led by Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Trump to suspend civilian nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

"The ongoing revelations about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as certain Saudi actions related to Yemen and Lebanon, have raised further serious concerns about the transparency, accountability, and judgment of current decision makers in Saudi Arabia," the senators wrote.

In Washington, D.C., where Khashoggi lived, activists are circulating an online petition to rename New Hampshire Avenue -- in front of the Saudi Embassy -- Jamal Khashoggi Way.

"I want you to start a petition that in every street and every city where there is a Saudi embassy or a Saudi mission, demand that it will be renamed after him," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. "Imagine if their mail had to be addressed to Khashoggi Way? That their business cards included such an address?"

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