‘Proof’ of Khashoggi’s mur­der

News­pa­per says Tur­key has au­dio of Saudi jour­nal­ist’s al­leged slay­ing

Sunday Tribune - - WORLD - AP ANA

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. |

| EPA-EFE | ANA

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’.

| AP ANA

SAUDI jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi speaks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Manama, Bahrain, in 2015.

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