The screenshots of WhatsApp messages sent to Khashoggi by a friend in the U.S. corroborate the timeline of his disappearance, providing further evidence that he did not leave the consulate, as Saudi Arabia’s government has claimed.
Khashoggi’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, has said he left a cellphone with her before entering the consulate. It’s unclear whether that’s the same cellphone to which the unread messages were sent. Reports in foreign news outlets have said Khashoggi left one cellphone with his fiancé but carried another into the consulate, and a person close to Khashoggi’s family told NBC News that was indeed a possibility.
Either way, the unread messages indicate that after entering the consulate, Khashoggi never regained access to the cellphone that he used regularly to communicate with friends and others in the U.S. The Virginia phone number is the same one that NBC News had used in the past to arrange interviews with Khashoggi.