Jamal Khashoggi: Timeline from 2018 killing as US report expected to blame Saudi crown prince for journalist's death

The US government is to release a declassified intelligence report which reportedly finds the Saudi Crown Prince responsible for approving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Three US officials have told NBC News that in the report Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing of the Washington Post columnist who was critical of the Saudi regime.

Mr Khashoggi disappeared in 2018 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he is later believed to have been dismembered.

Who is Jamal Khashoggi?

Mr Khashoggi was a long-time Saudi journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and columnist whose work has been controversial in the past in the ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom.

He went into self-imposed exile following the ascension of Prince Mohammed, now next in line to succeed his father, the 82-year-old King Salman.

Mr Khashoggi was known for his interviews and travels with Osama bin Laden between 1987 and 1995, including in Afghanistan, where he wrote about the battle against the Soviet occupation.

Joe Biden has promised to release the information on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Credit: AP

In the early 1990s, he tried to persuade bin Laden to reconcile with the Saudi royal family and return home from his base in Sudan, but the al-Qaida leader refused.

Mr Khashoggi maintained ties with Saudi elites and was viewed as a link between the West and the often opaque royal court.

As a contributor to the Post, Mr Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticising its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

Here is a timeline into the disappearance and death of the Washington Post columnist:

September 2017:

The Post publishes the first column by Mr Khashoggi in its newspaper, in which the former royal court insider and longstanding journalist writes about going into self-imposed exile in the US over the rise of Prince Mohammed.

His later columns criticise the prince and the kingdom’s direction.

September 28, 2018:

Over a year after the Post published his first column, Mr Khashoggi visits the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he is living, seeking documents in order to get married.

He is later told to return on October 2, his fiancee Hatice Cengiz says.

September 29, 2018:

Mr Khashoggi travels to London and speaks at a conference.

October 1, 2018:

Mr Khashoggi returns to Istanbul.

Khashoggi had walked into his country consulate in Istanbul on that morning in October 2018 and never returned.

October 2, 2018 – the day of his disappearance

3.28am: A private plane arrives at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport carrying some members of what Turkish media later refer to as a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad”, including a man officials describe as a forensics and “autopsy expert”. Others arrive via commercial flights, Turkish officials say.

1.14pm: Surveillance footage later leaked to Turkish media shows Mr Khashoggi walking into the main entrance of the Saudi consulate. No footage made public ever shows him leaving and his fiancee waits outside, pacing for hours.

3.07pm: Surveillance footage shows vehicles with diplomatic licence plates leaving the Saudi consulate for the consul general’s home just over a mile away.

7pm: A private plane just arrived from Saudi Arabia carries six members of the alleged Saudi squad from Istanbul to Cairo, returning to Riyadh the next day.

11pm: Seven members of the alleged Saudi squad leave on the other private jet to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which the next day returns to Riyadh. Two others leave by commercial flights.

Hatice Cengiz was the fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Credit: PA Images

October 3,2018:

Mr Khashoggi’s fiancée and the Washington Post go public with his disappearance.

Saudi Arabia says Mr Khashoggi visited the consulate and left shortly thereafter.

Turkish officials suggest Mr Khashoggi might still be in the consulate and later that night, Prince Mohammed tells Bloomberg: “We have nothing to hide.”

October 4, 2018:

Saudi Arabia says on its state-run news agency that the consulate is carrying out “follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building”.

October 5, 2018:

The Post prints a blank column in its newspaper in solidarity with Mr Khashoggi, headlined: "A missing voice."

Journalist and Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 Credit: PA

October 6, 2018:

The Post, citing anonymous Turkish officials, reports Mr Khashoggi may have been killed in the consulate in a “pre-planned murder” by a Saudi team.

October 7, 2018:

A friend of Khashoggi tells the Associated Press that officials told him Mr Khashoggi was killed at the consulate.

The consulate rejects what it calls “baseless allegations”.

October 8, 2018:

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey is summoned over Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged killing.

October 9, 2018:

Turkey says it will search the Saudi consulate as a picture of Mr Khashoggi walking into the diplomatic post surfaces.

A man holds a poster showing images of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman and of journalist Jamal Khashoggi Credit: Emrah Gurel/AP

October 10, 2018:

Surveillance footage is leaked of Mr Khashoggi and the alleged Saudi squad that killed him.

Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee asks US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump for help.

October 11, 2018:

Turkish media describes the Saudi squad which includes royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and a post-mortem examinations expert.

Mr Trump calls Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance a “bad situation”, and promises to get to the bottom of it.

October 12, 2018:

Mr Trump again pledges to find out what happened to Mr Khashoggi.

October 13, 2018:

A pro-government newspaper reports that Turkish officials have an audio recording of Mr Khashoggi’s alleged killing obtained from his Apple Watch, but details in the report come into question.

October 14, 2018:

Mr Trump tells CBS’s 60 Minutes that “we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia is involved.

The kingdom responds with a blistering attack against those who threaten it, as the manager of a Saudi-owned satellite news channel suggests the country could retaliate through its oil exports.

The Saudi stock exchange plunges as much as 7% at one point.

October 15, 2018:

A Turkish forensics team enters and searches the Saudi consulate, an extraordinary development as such diplomatic posts are considered sovereign soil.

Mr Trump suggests after a call with Saudi King Salman that “rogue killers” could be responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s death.

Mr Trump says his secretary of state Mike Pompeo will travel to the Middle East to investigate the case.

Meanwhile, business leaders say they will not attend an upcoming economic summit in the kingdom which was the brainchild of Prince Mohammed.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters about missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Credit: AP/Press Association Images

October 16, 2018:

A high-level Turkish official tells the Associated Press that “certain evidence” was found in the Saudi consulate proving Mr Khashoggi was killed there.

Mr Pompeo arrives for meetings in Saudi Arabia with King Salman and Prince Mohammed.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump compares the case to the appointment of now-US supreme court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, saying: “Here we go again with ‘you’re guilty until proven innocent’.”

October 17, 2018:

Mr Pompeo meets Turkey’s president and foreign minister in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Turkish police search the official residence of Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul and conduct a second sweep of the consulate.

October 18, 2018:

A leaked surveillance photograph shows a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage during several trips abroad walking into the consulate just before Mr Khashoggi vanished there.

October 20, 2018:

Saudi Arabia for the first time acknowledges Mr Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, claiming he died in a “fistfight”.

The claim draws immediate scepticism from the kingdom’s Western allies, particularly in the US congress.

October 22, 2018:

Newly-leaked surveillance footage shows a man appearing to wear Mr Khashoggi’s clothes leaving the consulate after his killing there.

Another report says a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office around the same time.

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

October 24, 2018

Donald Trump described the killing of Mr Khashoggi as a botched operation and a “bad original concept” as the US took its first, careful steps toward punishing the Saudis by moving to revoke the visas of the suspects.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Trump said the entire operation was a fiasco.

“They had a very bad original concept,” Mr Trump said.

“It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. Somebody really messed up, and they had the worst cover-up ever.”

October 29, 2018

The fiancee of Mr Khashoggi called for the “evil criminals and their cowardly political masters” to be held to account for his death.

November 15, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor recommended the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

November 17, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salam has been accused of ordering the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he has denied the allegations Credit: PA Images

US intelligence officials concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

However, Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat said the crown prince had “absolutely” nothing to do with the killing.

June 19, 2019

A human rights experts said there is ''credible evidence'' Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and he should be investigated.

The 101-page report into the killing of Mr Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul lays out dozens of recommendations, including calling on UN bodies or Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “demand” a follow-up criminal investigation.

The UN report comes just months after the US Senate passed a resolution stating that Prince Mohammed is responsible for the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

September 30, 2019

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a TV interview that he takes “full responsibility” for the grisly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he denies allegations that he ordered the killing.

The crown prince told the US programme 60 Minutes that Mr Khashoggi's killing was a “heinous crime” and a “mistake” by agents of the Saudi government.

December 23, 2019

A court in Saudi Arabia sentences five people to death over the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

July 3, 2020

The fiancee of Mr Khashoggi tells a Turkish court that all avenues for justice must be explored as 20 Saudi officials go on trial in absentia over the journalist’s killing in 2018.

"This has been an exhausting process both mentally and morally", Hatice Cengiz told reporters outside the building after the three-hour hearing concluded.

September 7, 2020

Five people charged with killing Jamal Khashoggi are given 20-year sentences by Saudi Arabia, as it issued final verdicts in the case.

Another person received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years.

October 21,2020

Ms Cengiz sues Prince Mohammed over his "brutal execution".

She files the lawsuit in Washington DC, accusing the Saudi leader of the "brutal and brazen crime" of killing her fiancé after "weeks of planning".

February 19, 2021

The Biden administration releases an intelligence report that concludes Prince Mohammed ordered the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.