Several of the suspects who were identified by Turkish officials in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi had close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the Saudi royal family, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and has not been seen since. While the Saudis insisted that he left the consulate safely that day, Turkish officials allege that he was murdered by a team of Saudi operatives while inside.
One suspect, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a Saudi diplomat assigned to the London embassy in 2007 and has been photographed traveling with the crown prince in the United States and Europe. According to the report, three other suspects have served as part of the crown prince's security team.
An autopsy expert, Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy, was also one of the suspects identified in the report as possibly having a relationship with the crown prince due to his previous position in the Saudi Interior Ministry.
The Saudi government is reportedly discussing a change of stance, admitting that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate but denying that the crown prince ordered or even knew about the killing.
The presence of suspects with close ties to the crown prince could complicate a potential narrative by the government that Khashoggi was killed by rogue operatives in an interrogation gone wrong.