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Saudi Arabia now admits Khashoggi killing was 'premeditated'

The Saudi government has continued to shift its account of what happened after the Washington Post writer entered its consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
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Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said Thursday that evidence shared by Turkish officials suggests that the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi was “premeditated.”

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, Saud al-Mojeb said indications were that the "suspects in the incident had committed their act with a premeditated intention."

The investigation continues in order to "complete the course of justice," it added.

The acknowledgment was the latest change in the Saudi government's shifting account of what happened to Khashoggi after he entered its consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

President Donald Trump has called the effort to conceal Khashoggi's killing the "worst cover-up ever."

After vehement denials that Riyadh was involved in Khashoggi's disappearance, Saudi officials admitted last week that the U.S.-based dissident was killed inside the building.

However, the Saudis had previously maintained that Khashoggi’s death was a mistake when an attempt by operatives to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia escalated into a fatal fistfight.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that the death was the result of a “rogue operation" in which individuals exceeded their authority.

And earlier this week, officials told NBC News that the original plan was to hold Khashoggi against his will for up to two days in a safe house in Turkey while persuading him to return to Saudi Arabia.

Turkish authorities have continually disputed that Khashoggi was killed by mistake, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Tuesday that he believed Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated.”

“It appears that the squad who planned and executed the murder had been informed of Jamal Khashoggi’s visit," Erdogan added.

Despite the shifting narrative, the Saudis have maintained that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no prior knowledge of the operation.

But U.S. officials told NBC News last week that American intelligence agencies believe it's inconceivable that the crown prince had no connection to Khashoggi's death but that they still have no "smoking gun" evidence that he ordered the journalist killed.

The crown prince on Wednesday called the killing a “heinous crime that cannot be justified.”