Er­do­gan: Turkey gave tapes of Khashoggi to Europe

Pres­i­dent wants to main­tain pressure on Saudi Ara­bia

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By EZGI ERKOYUN

IS­TAN­BUL (Reuters) – Turkey has given record­ings re­lated to the killing of Ja­mal Khashoggi to Ger­many, France and Bri­tain, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Satur­day, seek­ing to main­tain in­ter­na­tional pressure on Riyadh over the Saudi jour­nal­ist’s death.

Khashoggi, a critic of de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, was killed in Saudi Ara­bia’s Is­tan­bul con­sulate last month in a hit Er­do­gan says was or­dered at the “high­est lev­els” of the Saudi govern­ment.

His killing pro­voked global out­rage but lit­tle con­crete ac­tion by world pow­ers against Saudi Ara­bia, the world’s largest oil ex­porter and a supporter of Wash­ing­ton’s plans to con­tain Ira­nian in­flu­ence across the Mid­dle East.

Speak­ing as he left Turkey to at­tend World War I com­mem­o­ra­tions in France, which are be­ing at­tended by US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and Euro­pean lead­ers, Er­do­gan said for the first time that the three Euro­pean Union states had heard the record­ings.

“We gave the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Ara­bia, to the United States, Ger­mans, French and Bri­tish, all of them. They have lis­tened to all the con­ver­sa­tions in them. They know,” Er­do­gan said.

CIA di­rec­tor Gina Haspel heard an au­dio record­ing of Khashoggi’s death when she vis­ited Is­tan­bul, two sources told Reuters last month. A se­nior Saudi en­voy was also played a record­ing, a source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

Er­do­gan did not give de­tails of the con­tents of the tapes on Satur­day but two sources with knowl­edge of the is­sue have told Reuters that Turkey has sev­eral au­dio record­ings.

They in­clude the killing it­self and con­ver­sa­tions pre­dat­ing the op­er­a­tion, which Turkey sub­se­quently un­cov­ered, the sources said. Th­ese had led Ankara to con­clude from an early stage that the killing was pre­med­i­tated, de­spite Saudi Ara­bia’s ini­tial de­nials of any knowl­edge or in­volve­ment.

Saudi Ara­bia’s pros­e­cu­tor Saud al-Mo­jeb has since said Khashoggi’s killing was planned in ad­vance, al­though an­other Saudi official said Prince Mo­hammed had no knowl­edge of the spe­cific op­er­a­tion.

Er­do­gan did not re­peat on Satur­day his ac­cu­sa­tion that the op­er­a­tion was or­dered by Saudi lead­ers. How­ever, he called on Riyadh to iden­tify the killer, say­ing it must have been a mem­ber of a team that ar­rived in Turkey hours be­fore Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

“There’s no need to dis­tort this is­sue, they know for cer­tain that the killer, or the killers, is among th­ese 15 peo­ple. Saudi Ara­bia’s govern­ment can dis­close this by mak­ing th­ese 15 peo­ple talk,” Er­do­gan said.

Er­do­gan also ac­cused Mo­jeb – who vis­ited Is­tan­bul to dis­cuss the in­ves­ti­ga­tion with his Turkish coun­ter­part and in­spect the Is­tan­bul con­sulate – of re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate. “The pros­e­cu­tor came to Turkey to make ex­cuses, make things dif­fi­cult,” he said.

Er­do­gan re­peated a de­mand for in­for­ma­tion on the where­abouts of Khashoggi’s body. An ad­viser to the pres­i­dent has said the body was cut up for dis­posal, and Vice Pres­i­dent Fuat Ok­tay has called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into re­ports that it was then dis­solved in acid.

A Turkish official said last week that Saudi Ara­bia sent two peo­ple, a chemist and a tox­i­col­o­gist, to Is­tan­bul a week af­ter Khashoggi’s Oc­to­ber 2 killing to erase ev­i­dence, call­ing it a sign that top Saudi of­fi­cials knew of the crime.

Saudi Ara­bia has said mem­bers of the team that was sent to Is­tan­bul, and re­turned shortly af­ter the killing, have been ar­rested along with three oth­ers.

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