Turkish police have identified five suspects – four of whom have ties to the Saudi crown prince – in the investigation launched into the disappearance and alleged murder of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a U.S. media report.
One of the suspects, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has close ties to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, as photographs show him disembarking from airplanes with the crown prince in Madrid and Paris, according to the The New York Times. The suspect was also photographed next to the crown prince on visits to the U.N. and U.S.
A second suspect, Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hawsawi, is reportedly a member of the crown prince's security detail as cited by a French professional who had previously worked with the royal family.
Thaar Ghaleb al-Barbi, a third suspect, is a high-ranking Saudi royal guard, promoted to the position for his valor in the defense of the crown prince's quarters in Jeddah, Saudi media reported.
A fourth suspect, Muhammad Saad Alzahrani, traveled with a passport under the name of another Saudi royal guard member. In addition, footage shows the royal guard member wearing a different name tag.
The final suspect, Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy, the head of Forensic Evidence at the Saudi General Security Department who traveled to Istanbul on a Saudi expedition, is allegedly responsible for dismembering Khashoggi in the Saudi consul's Istanbul residence.
The New York Times echoed reports that Turkish authorities have successfully identified at least nine out of 15 suspects who have ties to Saudi's military, government or security services. The report stated that the suspects were transferred on private jets by a Saudi company that has direct links to the crown prince and Saudi's Interior Ministry.
A Turkish official reportedly said late Tuesday that Washington Post journalist and Riyadh critic Khashoggi was drugged, murdered and his body was cut into pieces after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
A Turkish investigator team and prosecutors conducted a nine-hour search in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul and will search Wednesday the residence of the Saudi consul, who returned to his country on Tuesday.
CNN and Al Jazeera reported the gruesome murder late Tuesday evening, citing an anonymous Turkish official. Al Jazeera said that Turkish officials claimed recordings of the horrific acts existed.
Following the reports, U.S. President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia's crown prince denied knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi in a phone call.
"Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate," Trump said on Twitter, referring to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the call, and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly."
Dissident journalist Khashoggi, has been missing since Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate to gather documents for marriage.
Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Crown Prince bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has shown little tolerance for criticism.