Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ‘dissolved in very fast acting acid’

A chilling new column written by missing Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi warns that Middle Eastern governments have "free rein" to silence the media.

Mr Khashoggi was last seen inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and it is claimed he was butchered alive and decapitated by a 15-member hit squad that included an autopsy expert who once studied in Glasgow.

Acid may have been used to dissolve his dismembered body, it is claimed.

The Washington Post has published a new opinion column by Mr Khashoggi that was received from his assistant a day after he was reported missing.

It was published after a gruesome account in Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper claimed that Saudi officials cut off Mr Khashoggi’s fingers and then decapitated him inside the consulate while his fiancee waited outside.

A source told Sky News that one line of inquiry is that a "very fast-acting chemical acid" was used to dissolve the journalist’s body parts.

In his final Post column, titled "Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression", the Saudi critic condemns the crackdown on journalists by Arab governments and the failure of the international community to respond.

He cited his friend and fellow Saudi writer, Saleh al-Shehi, who was jailed for five years after criticising the Saudi establishment, and the Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of the al-Masry al Youm newspaper.

Mr Khashoggi, last seen on October 2, wrote: "These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

"As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate."

The column included a note from Karen Attiah, the Post’s global opinions editor, who said she received the column from Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after he was reported missing in Istanbul.

She wrote: "The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together.

"Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post."

Ms Attiah praised Mr Khashoggi for his "commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world", adding: "A freedom he apparently gave his life for."

The Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has denied any involvement in Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.

On Thursday, Turkish crime scene investigators consulate after searching the premises and consular vehicles, a witness told Reuters.

Investigators used bright lights to illuminate the consulate’s garden in the second search there this week.

Authorities have also searched the Saudi consul’s residence, where it is alleged the journalist’s remains were taken to.

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