- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2018

U.S. intelligence intercepted communications between Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to his disappearance last week in Turkey in a case now roiling international investigators and threatening to damage relations between Washington and Riyadh.

According to a report published Tuesday night by The Washington Post — for which Mr. Khashoggi was a regular opinion contributor — American spy agencies collected communications that suggest a premeditated plot was carried out against the journalist.

The Post report, citing an unnamed “person familiar with the information,” said the intercepted communications showed that as yet unidentified Saudi officials wanted to lure Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there. It was not clear, the report said, whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Mr. Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the U.S. officials warned Mr. Khashoggi that he was a target.

The revelation marks a potentially explosive twist in the case of Mr. Khashoggi, 59, who vanished a week ago while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. His disappearance has triggered a widening investigation by Turkish authorities, amid fears the journalist was killed inside the consulate.

The Saudi government has denied any involvement in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The journalist was known as a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s increasingly authoritarian posture toward dissent in the Kingdom.

SEE ALSO: Video shows suspects in Saudi writer’s disappearance

The ongoing investigation and public outcry over Mr. Khashoggi’s fate have prompted a wave of responses from the Trump administration in recent days.

Vice President Mike Pence expressed fresh concern Wednesday over the case Wednesday, saying “violence against journalists should be condemned” and that the U.S. may be prepared to send FBI officials to help investigate the case.

“It’s a great concern for the United States of America,” Mr. Pence said in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt that aired Wednesday.

“The free world deserves answers,” Mr. Pence said.

“We don’t know what happened,” he said.

Turkish media outlets, as well as The Post, published photos and a video of an alleged Saudi “assassination squad” that traveled to Turkey last week and was at the Saudi Consulate at the same time that Mr. Khashoggi visited the diplomatic post.

• Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this article.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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