Turkish officials have evidence proving Khashoggi was assassinated
Trump says won’t risk $110bn in Saudi arms deals over Khashoggi
Turkish officials have shared contents of video and audio recordings that reportedly contain evidence supporting claims that a Washington Post contributor was murdered by the Saudi government with the Trump administration.
The Washington Post reported Thursday night that recordings of Saudi consulate officials in Turkey obtained by Turkish investigators and shared with their U.S. counterparts detail how Jamal Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered by a Saudi Arabian security team at the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
It is unclear whether the U.S. has been given direct access to the recordings, the Post reported, but U.S. officials confirmed that the Trump administration was made aware of their contents.
“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” one person with knowledge of the recordings told the Post. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”
“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” the Post’s source added, while a second official told the newspaper that Khashoggi could be heard on the recording undergoing beatings from his captors.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has evolved into a full-fledged international diplomatic crisis for the Saudi government, led by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Salman cast himself as a progressive reformer, but the disappearance and possible murder of a critical voice against his government has thrown Salman’s relationship with foreign leaders and organizations into question.
The New York Times, The Economist and a number of notable journalists announced Thursday that they would withdraw from an international media event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, later this month as a result of the Khashoggi’s disappearance.
President Trump indicated Thursday that his administration was investigating Khashoggi’s disappearance. “I have to find out what happened. I mean, I do have to find out. And we’re probably getting closer than you might think. But I have to find out what happened,” the president said in an interview on Fox News.
Earlier news noted that Trump was not willing to sour relations with the Saudis over the incident.
It is widely believed that Khashoggi was assassinated by Saudi operatives and his dismembered body was flown from Turkey to Saudi Arabia in two jets.
Trump & Khashoggi
U.S. President Donald Trump says he is not willing to throw away billions of dollars in military deals with Saudi Arabia over the suspected murder of a prominent Saudi journalist at the hands of the Riyadh regime’s death squads in Turkey.
“What good does that do us?” Trump asked, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday, nearly a week since Jamal Khashoggi’s mysterious disappearance after entering the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
“This took place in Turkey and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen,” Trump added, brushing aside the fact that the journalist lived in the U.S.
Concerned by Riyadh’s record of continued disregard for the right to free speech, several American lawmakers have asked Trump to pressure Riyadh until it comes clear about Khashoggi’s fate.
The most direct call for punishing Riyadh came from Republican Senator Rand Paul, who wrote in a tweet earlier in the day that the Saudi killings of dissidents and opposition journalists won’t stop unless the U.S. stops “arming and assisting” Riyadh.
“I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion — which is an all-time record — and letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money,” Trump told reporters, referring to an arms deal he signed with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his maiden trip to Saudi Arabia last year.
In a separate interview, Trump told Fox News that while he didn’t “like” the incident and had assigned investigators to get to the bottom of the issue, relations with Saudi Arabia remained “excellent.”
“We want to find out what happened,” Trump said. “He went in and it doesn’t look like he came out.”
Saudi’s U.S. envoy flies back home
The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz had headed back home to get more information about the case.
“I’m told that he’s headed back to his home country, and we expect some information when he gets back,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.
There is widespread speculation – specially among Turkish officials -- that Khashoggi has been assassinated by as many as 15 Saudi operatives who took him into the consulate. The journalist’s dismembered body is also reported to have been flown back to Saudi Arabia in two jets.
Adding another twist to the already complicated puzzle, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that bin Salman had personally ordered the assassination.
This is while Riyadh had denied being behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. However, it has so far failed to provide any evidence to back its claims.
On Wednesday, the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked Trump in a bipartisan letter to investigate whether “the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia” were responsible for possible crimes in Khashoggi’s case.
U.S. Green Party leader and former presidential candidate Jill Stein also called on Trump to cut ties with Riyadh.
However, the U.S. president has shown no real interest in tangling with the Saudis.
On the contrary, the American president has proudly boasted that his dealings with Saudis help the regime to stay afloat while creating jobs back home.