Re­port: Tur­key has au­dio of writer’s slay­ing

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - WORLD - BY ZEYNEP BIL­GIN­SOY AND JON GAMBRELL

IS­TAN­BUL — 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 Satur­day.

The new claim pub­lished by the Sabah news­pa­per, through which Turk­ish se­cu­rity of­fi­cials have leaked much in­for­ma­tion about the case, puts more pres­sure on Saudi Ara­bia to ex­plain what hap­pened to Khashoggi.

Also Satur­day, Tur­key’s top diplo­mat re­it­er­ated a call to Saudi Ara­bia to open up its con­sulate, from where Khashoggi dis­ap­peared, for Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties to search.

The writer, who has writ­ten crit­i­cally about Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, van­ished af­ter he walked into the con­sulate Oct. 2. The king­dom has main­tained the al­le­ga­tions against it are “base­less,” though an of­fi­cial early Satur­day — on Khashoggi’s 60th birth­day — ac­knowl­edged for the first time that some be­lieve the writer was killed by the king­dom.

Au­thor­i­ties re­cov­ered the au­dio from Khashoggi’s iPhone and his 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 later us­ing the jour­nal­ist’s fin­ger. How­ever, Ap­ple Watches do not have a fin­ger­print ID un­lock func­tion like iPhones. The news­pa­per did not ad­dress that in its re­port.

An Ap­ple Watch can record au­dio and can sync that later with an iPhone over a Blue­tooth con­nec­tion if it is close by. 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’ve also al­leged that they have video of the slay­ing, but not ex­plained how they have it.

Tur­key may be try­ing to pro­tect its in­tel­li­gence sources through leak­ing this way, an­a­lysts say.

“Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, in­tel­li­gence ser­vices would want to pro­tect their sources, whether hu­man or tech­ni­cal,” Car­rie Cordero, a se­nior fel­low at the Wash­ing­ton-based Cen­ter for a New Amer­i­can Se­cu­rity, wrote re­cently. She for­merly worked on in­tel­li­gence mat­ters for the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

She added: “The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment may need to re­veal sources it does not want to re­veal if the Saudi Ara­bian gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to deny in­volve­ment de­spite ev­i­dence Tur­key has in its pos­ses­sion.”

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 into Is­tan­bul 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.

Early Satur­day, 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.

Omer Ce­lik, a spokesman for Er­do­gan’s rul­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party, said that Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance will be “in­ves­ti­gated strongly.” A del­e­ga­tion from Saudi Ara­bia ar­rived in Tur­key on Fri­day as part of a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the writer’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

“Such an act is an at­tack on all the val­ues of the demo­cratic world. It’s an act that will never be for­given or cov­ered up,” he said. “This is not an act that Tur­key would ever con­sider le­git­i­mate. If there are peo­ple who com­mit­ted this, it will have heavy con­se­quences.”

How­ever, Tur­key’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said Saudi Ara­bia had not yet co­op­er­ated with Tur­key on the search for Khashoggi. He said Turk­ish “pros­e­cu­tors and tech­ni­cal friends must en­ter” the con­sulate “and Saudi Ara­bia must co­op­er­ate with us on this.”

Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance has put pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has en­joyed close re­la­tions with the Saudis since en­ter­ing of­fice. Trump has promised to per­son­ally call Saudi Ara­bia’s King Sal­man soon about “the ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion in Tur­key.”

AP PHOTO/PETROS GIANNAKOURIS

A se­cu­rity per­son­nel walks past the en­trance of Saudi Ara­bia’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Satur­day.

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