Khashoggi was threatened by Saudi officials before murder, friend tells court

A close friend of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi told a Turkish court on Tuesday that people close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had threatened him before his death, Agence France Presse reported.

Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political dissident and owner of the Egyptian opposition TV channel El-Sharq, said Khashoggi became afraid after receiving a phone call from ex-royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani, who is charged with committing premeditated murder with “monstrous intent” by the court in Istanbul.

“Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,” AFP cited Nour as telling the court.

Khashoggi spoke of a phone call from Qahtani when he was living in Washington DC in which Qahtani said he knew his kids and where they lived, Nour said, according to Rebecca Vincent, director of international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who was tweeting from the courtroom.

Khashoggi was crying, which was unusual, and said he was afraid, Vincent said, citing Nour.

Saudi critic and Washington Post contributor Khashoggi was murdered in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2, 2018. While the journalists' remains have not been found, Turkish officials believe his body was dismembered and removed from the building.

In September, a Saudi court jailed eight unnamed defendants for the murder for between seven and 20 years.

In a second indictment accepted by the Istanbul court on Tuesday, six defendants were added to the list of 20 Saudi officials already being tried. The suspects are on trial in absentia after the Saudi government refused to extradite them.