The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, sought to draw missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him.
The Washington Post columnist has not been heard from since Oct. 2, when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities. The Washington Post said there are U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.
According to some friends of Khashoggi, over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to bin Salman had called Khashoggi to offer him protection and even a high-level job working for the government if he returned to his home country.
The report said Khashoggi was “skeptical” over the offers and told one of his friends that the “Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him”.
“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’” Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.
A citizen of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi served as editor of multiple Saudi newspapers including Arab News and Al-Watan.
During his residency in the U.S., he lived in northern Virginia and was a contributor to The Washington Post.
The Washington Post said in the report that the intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi has raised questions about whether the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.
“Intelligence agencies have a ‘duty to warn’ people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to a directive signed in 2015. The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident,” it added.
A former senior intelligence official who did not want to be named told The Washington Post: “Capturing him, which could have been interpreted as arresting him, would not have triggered a duty-to-warn obligation.”
“If something in the reported intercept indicated that violence was planned, then, yes, he should have been warned,” the official was quoted as saying.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the warning process, declined to comment on whether Khashoggi had been contacted, according to The Washington Post.
Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi, while several countries particularly Turkey, the U.S., and the UK have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.
According to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. After being told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.
Khashoggi called the consulate and was told “that documents are being prepared” and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz but was not seen after entering it.