Turkey: US given au­dio of Khashoggi’s killing

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Mark Landler and David B. Kirk­patrick

WASHINGTON — Turkey said Satur­day that it had turned over an au­dio record­ing of the killing of a Saudi dis­si­dent to the United States and other Western coun­tries, in­ten­si­fy­ing the pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to take stronger puni­tive mea­sures against his al­lies in Saudi Ara­bia.

The dis­clo­sure, made by Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, was his first pub­lic ac­knowl­edg­ment of the record­ing of the killing of Ja­mal Khashoggi in the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul last month. Saudi Ara­bia has ad­mit­ted its op­er­a­tives killed Khashoggi but de­nied that the at­tack was or­dered by Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the king­dom’s de facto ruler and a close ally of Trump.

“We gave them the tapes,” Er­do­gan said at a news con­fer­ence in Ankara. “They’ve also lis­tened to the con­ver­sa­tions, they know it.”

The White House de­clined to say whether it had a copy of the record­ing, which Er­do­gan said Turkey had also pro­vided to Bri­tain, France, Ger­many and Saudi Ara­bia. But Er­do­gan’s claim puts Trump in an awk­ward po­si­tion, sug­gest­ing he pos­sesses vivid ev­i­dence of Khashoggi’s pre­med­i­tated killing, even as he has re­sisted tough sanc­tions against the Saudis and re­fused to say ex­actly who he be­lieves was re­spon­si­ble for the crime.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken mod­est steps against the Saudi gov­ern­ment, sus­pend­ing air-re­fu­el­ing flights for its mil­i­tary cam­paign in Ye­men and draft­ing hu­man rights sanc­tions against Saudis who have been linked to the killing of Khashoggi, a res­i­dent of Vir­ginia who wrote col­umns for The Washington Post.

But the White House has de­clined to ac­cuse Crown Prince Mo­hammed, who has cul­ti­vated par­tic­u­larly close ties with Trump’s son-in­law and se­nior ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner.

In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials and se­nior diplo­mats have said that any oper­a­tion like Khashoggi’s as­sas­si­na­tion al­most cer­tainly must be ap­proved by Crown Prince Mo­hammed, but Turkish of­fi­cials have said the au­dio does not it­self di­rectly im­pli­cate the prince.

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