Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said on Thursday the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate was premeditated, reversing previous official statements that the killing was unintended.
The death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sparked global outrage and mushroomed into a crisis for the world's top oil exporter and strategic ally of the West.
Saudi officials initially denied having anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2, before changing the official account to say an internal investigation suggested Khashoggi was accidentally killed in a botched operation to return him to the kingdom.
Turkey and Western allies of Riyadh have voiced deep scepticism about Saudi explanations of the killing, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dismissing Saudi efforts to blame rogue operatives and urging the kingdom to search "top to bottom" for those responsible.
On Thursday, Saudi state TV quoted the Saudi public prosecutor as saying the killing was premeditated, and that prosecutors were interrogating suspects on the basis of information provided by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force.
"Information from the Turkish side affirms that the suspects in Khashoggi's case premeditated their crime," said the statement carried by state TV.