After initially contending that he had left the consulate and that they had no idea where he was, the Saudis then conceded that he had died there, but at the hands of a group of ârogue killersâ during an operation that went wrong.
The Saudis shifted gears again last week, with the countryâs chief prosecutor acknowledging that the killing had been âpremeditated,â citing new information that had been provided by the Turkish authorities.
The prosecutorâs revelation that Mr. Khashoggi had been strangled came after a strategy by Turkey of leaking details of its investigation to the media, drip by drip, to pressure Saudi Arabia to come clean.
Over the last month Turkey, has leaked lurid details about Mr. Khashoggiâs death, including the role of a Saudi forensic specialist wielding a bone saw and how, the audio recording suggested, he put on head phones to listen to music as he set to work. Turkish officials also released the photographs and names of 15 Saudi officials who flew in to Turkey the day Mr. Khashoggi was killed, some of whom proved to be security officials close to the crown prince.
Turkish media published further details Wednesday ahead of the prosecutorâs announcement, citing unnamed Turkish officials who had listened to the audio recordings.
âThey forced Saudi Arabia to admit responsibility by leaking some of the evidence,â said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, the Ankara director for the German Marshall Fund of the United States. âBut also by not making all of the evidence public they have gained leverage.â
He said Turkeyâs president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is now using that leverage in relations with Saudi Arabia, but also to an extent with the Trump administration, which has pinned its Middle East policy closely to its relationship with Saudi Arabia and in particular the crown prince. Mr. Erdogan could use it defensively to protect his interests, or he could choose to release it.
âIf he gave it to social media,â Mr. Unluhisarcikli said, âimagine the damage.â