Saudi officials are discussing a plan to lure senior journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to his home country and detain him, an American official close with the intelligence has revealed.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 where he went to the consul to collect some documents. He was captured in the camera while entering the building, but never came out of it. The Saudi officials asserted that Khashoggi left within a few minutes of his arrival.
The officials said that there is no clear picture if the original plan was to murder Khashoggi or if something had happened at the consulate, adding that there is no "hard evidence" whether the senior scribe is dead or alive, CNN reported.
Most United States intelligence officials believe that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had carried out an operation to silence Khashoggi, who wrote a series of columns criticising the kingdom country's regime in The Washington Post.
Earlier this week, the US had expressed concerns about Khashoggi's disappearance and called on the Saudi government to conduct an investigation into the case.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump, in an interview, had said that his administration was being "very tough" with Saudi Arabia while probing Khashoggi's sudden disappearance.
"We have investigators over there and we're working with Turkey and frankly we're working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened. We're probably getting closer than you might think," he told Fox and Friends.
Turkish officials claimed that their Saudi counterparts carried out Khashoggi's kidnapping and murder. They alleged that a 15-man team flew from Riyadh to Istanbul on the day the senior journalist visited the consulate and were present in the building.
A Saudi official told CNN that Riyadh had "categorically denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance".
"At this stage, our priority is to support the investigation, as opposed to responding to evolving comments not directly related to those efforts. Jamal's well being, as a Saudi citizen, is our utmost concern and we are focusing on the investigation as a means to reveal the truth behind his disappearance. Our sympathies go out to the family during this difficult time," the official added.
However, a senior Turkish official alleged that Saudi Arabia was not cooperating in the probe. (ANI)