ISTANBUL — Turkish officials have provided The Washington Post with scans of passports that they say were carried by seven men who were part of a Saudi team involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
These passport scans add to the information made public by Turkey as it seeks to fill out the narrative of what happened to Khashoggi, a Post contributor who vanished after entering the consulate to obtain a document he needed for his upcoming wedding.
The Post is publishing the passport scans but obscuring the faces and names of the men because it has not independently verified their identities.
Within days of Khashoggi’s disappearance, Turkish investigators said they had pieced together most of the mystery, concluding that he had been killed inside the consulate and dismembered.
Turkey said a 15-member team dispatched from Saudi Arabia played a role in the killing. Turkish officials have confirmed that the 15 names reported in the Turkish media are those of the suspected team members, and their alleged involvement is part of the evidence cited by Turkey that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
Saudi officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and say they have no information about his whereabouts.
Over the past two days, Saudi Arabia has allowed Turkish police to search the consulate. But investigators have been frustrated with what they say is a lack of Saudi cooperation, according to two senior Turkish officials, who cited the long delay before they were allowed to enter the consulate. They also noted apparent Saudi attempts to scrub the scene by bringing in cleaning crews and repainting areas of the consulate. “People who have nothing to hide,” one official said, “don’t behave like this.”
Saudi Arabia has made no official statement about the men or said why they may have been in Istanbul on Oct. 2. A report on the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel said the 15 were “tourists” who had been falsely accused.
The senior Turkish officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were eager to interview members of the 15-man Saudi team, all of whom were believed to have arrived and left Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared. It was not clear why Turkish officials did not provide scans of all 15 passports.
The passport copies were provided to The Post on the same day as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.