‘Proof’ of Khashoggi’s murder
Newspaper says Turkey has audio of Saudi journalist’s alleged slaying
TURKISH officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago, a pro-government Turkish newspaper reported yesterday.
The new claim, published by the Sabah newspaper, through which Turkish security officials have leaked much information about the case, didn’t immediately explain how officials there also reportedly have video of Khashoggi’s alleged slaying.
However, it puts more pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, who has written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after he walked into the consulate on October 2.
The kingdom has maintained the allegations are “baseless”, although an official yesterday acknowledged for the first time that some believe Khashoggi was killed by the kingdom.
Authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi’s iphone and icloud account, the newspaper said. The journalist had given his phones to his fiancée before entering the consulate.
The newspaper also alleged Saudi officials tried to delete the recordings first by incorrectly guessing Khashoggi’s PIN on the watch, then using the journalist’s finger. However, Apple Watches do not have a fingerprint ID unlock function like iphones. The newspaper did not address that.
An Apple Watch can record audio and can sync that later with an iphone over a Bluetooth connection. The newspaper’s account did not elaborate on how the Apple Watch synced that information to both the phone and Khashoggi’s icloud account.
Turkish officials have not answered queries from The Associated Press about Khashoggi’s Apple Watch.
Turkish officials say they believe a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” killed Khashoggi at the consulate. They have also alleged that they have video of the slaying, but not explained how they have it.
Turkey has yet to publish any evidence of him being slain, though surveillance footage around the consulate shows a convoy of vehicles with diplomatic licence plates leaving the Saudi Consulate for the consul’s home in Istanbul a little under two hours after Khashoggi’s arrival.
Saudi Arabia has said it had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance, without explaining or offering evidence of how the writer left the consulate and disappeared with his fiancée waiting outside.
A Saudi-owned satellite news channel has begun referring to the 15-man team as “tourists”, without providing evidence to support the claim.
It echoes how Russia has described the men who allegedly carried out the Novichok nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury, England, in March.
Yesterday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency published a statement from Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud again denying the kingdom’s involvement. This time, however, it acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia was accused of killing Khashoggi.
“What has been circulating about orders to kill (Khashoggi) are lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom, which is committed to its principles, rules and traditions and is in compliance with international laws and conventions,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has put pressure on US President Donald Trump, who has enjoyed close relations with the Saudis since entering office. Trump has promised consequences for Saudi Arabia if the kingdom’s leadership was behind the disappearance of Khashoggi.
“We are going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment,” Trump told the CBS News programme 60 Minutes.
When Trump was asked if Khashoggi was murdered on the government’s order, he replied: “It’s being investigated, it’s being looked at very, very strongly, and we would be very upset and angry if that were the case.
“As of this moment, they deny it, and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.”
Trump said he was reluctant to cancel a $110 billion (R1.6 trillion) arms deal with the Saudis.
“I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that. And you know what, there are other ways of punishing – to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word – but it’s true.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who accompanied him to the Saudi consulate, the State Department said on Friday. No details of the conversation were released.
In an interview on Friday, Cengiz said Khashoggi was not nervous when he entered the consulate to obtain paperwork required for their marriage.
“He said, ‘See you later my darling,’ and went in,” she told the AP.
In written responses to questions, Cengiz said Turkish authorities had not told her about any recordings and Khashoggi was officially “still missing”, and investigators were examining his cellphones, which he had left with her.
Global business leaders are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the government and Prince Mohammed, the 33-year-old heir apparent, who has shown little tolerance for criticism.
As a contributor to the Washington Post, Khashoggi has written extensively
about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada, and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.
Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a round-up of activists and businessmen. |
SAUDI officials arrive at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday as part of an investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Saudis welcomed the joint effort and said the kingdom was keen ‘to sustain the security and safety of its citizenry, wherever they might happen to be’.
SAUDI journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, in 2015.