Mohammed bin Salman ‘said Khashoggi should get a bullet’

Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, reportedly told an aide that he would use “a bullet” on Jamal Khashoggi one year before the journalist was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

US intelligence intercepted a phone call in September 2017 in which the crown prince said Mr Khashoggi should be lured back to Saudi Arabia or forced back to the kingdom, according to the New York Times. If neither method worked he should face a bullet, the prince reportedly said. 

If confirmed, the phone call would appear to be the most direct evidence yet linking Crown Prince Mohammed to plans to kill the Washington Post columnist. Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied that the 33-year-old, who is effectively the kingdom’s ruler, was in anyway involved in the October 2018 killing. 

The White House has continued to stand by the prince, despite a classified CIA assessment which concluded that the Saudi royal ordered Mr Khashoggi’s assassination. 

Meanwhile, a senior aide to to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey slammed Saudi Arabia for a "complete lack of transparency” over the investigation into Mr Khashoggi’s death.

Fahrettin Altun, Mr Erdogan’s communications director, demanded that suspects be extradited to Turkey to stand trial, a demand that Saudi Arabia has ignored. 

"Over the past four months, the Saudi authorities have been less than forthcoming in their dealings with their Turkish counterparts and the international community," Mr Altun said.

The kingdom has charged 11 people with the killing, including members of Crown Prince Mohammed’s entourage, and is seeking the death penalty against five of them.

However, the proceedings have continued in secret and no evidence against the men has been made public. 

Agnes Callamard, a UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial measures, said that Saudi authorities had a held a secret second hearing in the men’s cases without releasing any details of the proceedings. 

She said the hearing had taken place on January 31 and criticised the fact that there is "insufficient public attention placed on the proceedings" and that the media are not present.

Hatice Cengiz, Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee, said Friday that she hopes King Salman, the crown prince’s father, "has a conscience” and supports Turkey’s investigation into the killing.