A man places a poster of missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, on a barrier that blocks the road leading to the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, as people gather in his support,Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Khashoggi, a 59-year-old veteran journalist who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since Prince Mohammed's rise to power, disappeared Oct. 2 while on a visit to the consulate to get paperwork done to be married to his Turkish fiancée. The Saudi Consulate insists Khashoggi left its building, contradicting Turkish officials who say they believe he is still there. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Friend: Saudi journalist 'killed' at consulate in Istanbul

October 07, 2018 - 5:23 am

ISTANBUL (AP) — A friend of a prominent Saudi journalist who went missing in Istanbul said Sunday that officials told him to "make your funeral preparations" as the Washington Post contributor "was killed" at the Saudi Consulate.

A Turkish official separately told The Associated Press that authorities believe Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate, while another said it was a "high probability."

Saudi officials have denied allegations that Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, calling them "baseless."

The growing dispute over his fate threatens relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and raises new questions about the kingdom and the actions of its assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Khashoggi wrote critically about in his columns.

Turan Kislakci, a friend of Khashoggi and the head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, spoke to the AP on Sunday outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He said he believes Turkish officials soon will announce the findings of their investigation.

"What was explained to us is this: He was killed, make your funeral preparations," Kislakci said. "We called a few other places, these are lower officials, but they said: 'We have evidence he was killed in a barbaric way, we will announce it tomorrow or the day after.'"

Kislakci also alleged, based on conversations with officials he did not name, that Khashoggi was made to "faint," then was dismembered.

A Turkish official told the AP late Saturday that an "initial assessment" by police concluded Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate. On Sunday, another official assessed as "high probability" that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and his body was taken away.

The Post reported on the police's theory late Saturday, citing two anonymous sources.

"If the reports of Jamal's murder are true, it is a monstrous and unfathomable act," the Post's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said in a statement. "Jamal was — or, as we hope, is — a committed, courageous journalist. He writes out of a sense of love for his country and deep faith in human dignity and freedom."

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Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey and Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed.