Missing journalist: Alleged member of Khashoggi 'hit squad' seen at Saudi consulate

Russell Hope, news reporter

An alleged member of a hit squad was seen entering the building where journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished hours before his disappearance.

Turkish newspaper Sabah published a CCTV image purportedly showing the man entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shortly before the Washington Post columnist arrived.

It came amid reports that another man accused of being involved in Mr Khashoggi's disappearance has been killed in a car crash in Saudi Arabia.

Meshal Saad M Albostani, a lieutenant in the Saudi Royal Air Force, is said to have died in a "suspicious traffic accident" in Riyadh, Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported.

Mr Khashoggi, a 60-year-old Saudi dissident and US resident, visited the consulate on 2 October to obtain papers needed to get married.

He has not been seen since and is widely suspected to have been tortured, murdered and dismembered for his opposition to the Riyadh regime.

The Gulf kingdom has called the allegations "baseless".

Sabah's report does not name the man in the CCTV image, but he has been previously identified as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a reported bodyguard and regular member of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage.

Turkish authorities have previously claimed he is one of the individuals involved in a 15-man Saudi "assassination squad" that targeted Mr Khashoggi.

The paper's image showed the man walking past police barricades at the consulate at 9.55am with several men trailing behind him.

Mr Khashoggi arrived at the consulate several hours later at 1.14pm, then disappeared while his fiancee waited outside for him.

As well as visiting the Saudi mission, the suspect is seen at the consul's official residence, checking out of a hotel and at Istanbul's Ataturk airport leaving Turkey later the same day.

Turkish police completed an overnight search of the consulate and consul's residence, where investigators were seen carrying away boxes of material.

On Wednesday, newspaper Yeni Safak claimed there was an audio recording of Mr Khashoggi's killing.

The paper said a Saudi team immediately grabbed the journalist after he entered the consulate, cutting off his fingers and later decapitating him.

It is also claimed his remains were dissolved in chemical acid, possibly at the consul general's house.

Previously leaked surveillance footage showed consular vehicles moving from the consulate to the consul general's official residence, just over a mile away.

Security services in Turkey have used pro-government media to leak details of Mr Khashoggi's case, adding to the pressure on the kingdom.

US President Donald Trump denied on Wednesday he was giving "cover" to his main Middle East ally, but has said "we need to know all the facts" before deciding on any action.

After returning from talks in Riyadh and Istanbul, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said answers were needed and "sooner is better than later for everyone".