U.S. intelligence intercepts show Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered that Jamal Khashoggi, a missing Washington Post columnist, be enticed to return from the United States to Saudi Arabia so that he could be detained, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The newspaper, citing unidentified U.S. officials it described as familiar with the intelligence, said the information provides additional evidence of alleged official Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Washington Post report also said the intelligence suggesting Saudi Arabia planned to detain Khashoggi in the country has led to speculation among officials and analysts that his disappearance in Istanbul was perhaps a substitute plan that went awry.
Khashoggi, a journalist and critic of the Saudi royal family, was last seen entering the consulate on Oct. 2. Turkish officials have claimed he was murdered and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents working under royal orders.
Saudi Arabia is a close U.S. ally and the disappearance has sparked anger among U.S. lawmakers. In a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, several senators triggered an investigation and potential sanctions over the disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Media officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment by CNBC after office hours. Officials in the media affairs office of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh were unavailable early Thursday before office hours.