Jamal Khashoggi was offered a cup of tea at the Saudi embassy before he was drugged and dismembered, according to new information from officials.
An anonymous Western intelligence official told the Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a columnist, that secret recordings captured the Saudi murder squad discussing their plans in detail.
The 59-year-old journalist was reportedly offered tea but “replied yes with an edge in his voice that made it clear that he sensed that this ritual act of politeness presaged something sinister”.
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the US in 2017 but visited the embassy in Istanbul on October 2 to collect paperwork for his upcoming marriage.
Mystery has surrounded the death of the writer, who was an outspoken critic of the kingdom’s government, and statements as to what happened have been inconsistent.
The Post reported that Khashoggi seems to have believed that he was going to be drugged and abducted but that “the Saudi team brought a syringe packed with enough sedative to be lethal”.
They added: “The rest of the recording suggests there was no intent to take Khashoggi alive, multiple officials said.
“It captures the writer gasping for air in a physical struggle that gives way to silence.”
“The horror resumes with the sound of an electric motor, presumably a saw that a special member of the team — a crime scene expert from the Saudi Ministry of Interior — used to dismember Khashoggi’s body.”