Bombshell new allegations linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi have been published by a Turkish newspaper.
The report by pro-Government daily Yeni Safak alleges the Crown Prince telephoned the Washington Post columnist moments before he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
While the claim has not been verified by officials in public, Turkish authorities have consistently leaked details of the investigation to pro-government media outlets and their reports have been largely accurate.
"Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh," the report alleges.
"Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed's offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended."
Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi's killers held him down while his fingers were hacked off and then injected him with a lethal drug before carrying him into another room where he was hoisted onto a conference table and dismembered.
Investigators hunting for Khashoggi's body have tracked two Saudi Arabian consulate vehicles to separate locations outside the city centre.
One vehicle visited the Belgrad Forest, a large forest area on the outskirts of Istanbul, while the other vehicle went to the city of Yalova, an hour's drive from the consulate. Both areas are currently being searched for Khashoggi's remains.
There has been speculation Khashoggi was murdered because of his open criticism of the Crown Prince but Saudi authorities insist the royal played no part in his death.
Turkish police have named 15 men, including several of Prince Mohammed's personal employees and an Australia-trained, bone-saw wielding Saudi pathologist, who allegedly made up a "hit squad" to kill Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a US resident, entered the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents that would clear the way for his impending marriage to fiancee Hatice Cengiz but never emerged.
As suspicion over his disappearance grew, Saudi authorities offered up a variety of bizarre explanations, beginning with an assertion that he had left the consulate unharmed.
But after a Turkish media report claiming Khashoggi's Apple Watch may have captured gruesome audio of him being tortured, drugged, killed and later dismembered, the Saudi government finally admitted the journalist was dead.
However, the new narrative — that Khashoggi was accidentally strangled after a brawl erupted between him and officials inside the consulate — was greeted with scepticism and condemnation from the international community.
On Sunday, the Saudis claimed the initial plan was to kidnap Khashoggi and try and persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia but to release him unharmed if he refused.
The report in Yeni Safak citing allegations by Turkish government sources that the Crown Prince personally phoned Khashoggi moments before his murder contradict Saudi claims he had no knowledge of the assassination plot.
Three days after the journalist vanished, Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate, adding "we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises".
The kingdom has fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing — a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the Crown Prince's role in the murder.
Several senior members of US President Donald Trump's Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a "collective" Western response if a link is proved.
"Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies," Mr Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.
Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan has announced he will "go into detail" about the Khashoggi investigation, including what authorities know about the 15-member "hit squad", in a special parliamentary address on Tuesday.
"Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details," President Erdogan said on Sunday.
US congressional leaders said the Gulf kingdom should face severe consequences for Khashoggi's murder.
Meanwhile, Istanbul's chief prosecutor summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony on Monday, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported.
Prosecutors have previously questioned consulate staff; some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.
Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency reported Sunday that Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, has been given 24-hour police protection.
Britain, Germany and France issued a joint statement condemning the killing of Khashoggi, saying there is an "urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened".
In a statement Sunday, the governments said attacks on journalists were unacceptable and "of utmost concern to our three nations".
They said the "hypotheses" proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday that she supports a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
— With AP