Turks: Khashoggi was killed

The Southland Times - - World -

The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment has told US of­fi­cials that it has au­dio and video record­ings that prove Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Ja­mal Khashoggi was killed in­side the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul this month, ac­cord­ing to US and Turk­ish of­fi­cials.

The record­ings show that a Saudi se­cu­rity team de­tained Khashoggi in the con­sulate af­ter he walked in on Oc­to­ber 2 to ob­tain an of­fi­cial doc­u­ment be­fore his up­com­ing wed­ding, then killed him and dis­mem­bered his body, the of­fi­cials said.

The au­dio record­ing in par­tic­u­lar pro­vides some of the most per­sua­sive and grue­some ev­i­dence that the Saudi team is re­spon­si­ble for Khashoggi’s death, the of­fi­cials said.

‘‘The voice record­ing from in­side the em­bassy lays out what hap­pened to Ja­mal af­ter he en­tered,’’ said one per­son with knowl­edge of the record­ing who, like oth­ers, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss highly sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence.

‘‘You can hear his voice and the voices of men speak­ing Ara­bic,’’ this per­son said. ‘‘You can hear how he was in­ter­ro­gated, tor­tured and then mur­dered.’’

A sec­ond per­son briefed on the record­ing said men could be heard beat­ing Khashoggi.

The journalist has had long­stand­ing ties to the Saudi royal fam­ily, but has writ­ten crit­i­cally of the cur­rent gov­ern­ment and Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man.

The ex­is­tence of such ev­i­dence would ex­plain why Turk­ish of­fi­cials were quick to blame Saudi Ara­bia for Khashoggi’s killing. But Turk­ish of­fi­cials are wary of re­leas­ing the record­ings, fear­ing they could di­vulge how the Turks spy on for­eign en­ti­ties in their coun­try, the of­fi­cials said.

It’s not clear that US of­fi­cials have seen the footage or lis­tened to the au­dio record­ing, but Turk­ish of­fi­cials have de­scribed their con­tents to their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts.

Saudi of­fi­cials have de­nied any in­volve­ment in the dis­ap­pear­ance of Khashoggi, say­ing he left the con­sulate shortly af­ter en­ter­ing.

Turkey said yes­ter­day it has agreed to a re­quest by Saudi Ara­bia to form a joint com­mit­tee to probe what hap­pened to Khashoggi.

Crown Prince Mo­hammed has billed him­self as a re­former and mod­er­at­ing force in the coun­try, and he has be­come a key strate­gic part­ner in par­tic­u­lar to Jared Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent’s son-in­law and se­nior ad­viser.

Kush­ner has tried to pro­mote the prince to scep­ti­cal na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, who have long viewed him as an im­petu­ous and ruth­less leader who has an overly sim­plis­tic view of the com­plex chal­lenges the United States faces in the Mid­dle East.

Dur­ing a bill sign­ing yes­ter­day in the Oval Of­fice, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called Khashoggi’s sus­pected mur­der ‘‘a ter­ri­ble thing,’’ but stopped short of as­sign­ing blame.

‘‘We’re look­ing at it very strongly,’’ Trump said.

‘‘We’ll be hav­ing a re­port out soon. We’re work­ing with Turkey, we’re work­ing with Saudi Ara­bia.

‘‘What hap­pened is a ter­ri­ble thing, as­sum­ing that hap­pened. I mean, maybe we’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised, but some­how I tend to doubt it.’’

Within the White House, on Capi­tol Hill and among US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials there is a grow­ing be­lief that Khashoggi is dead and that Saudi Ara­bia is to blame.

That con­clu­sion is driven in part by US in­tel­li­gence re­ports be­fore Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance that show the prince or­dered an op­er­a­tion to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Ara­bia, where he was to be de­tained.

– Wash­ing­ton Post

Mem­bers of the press film over a po­lice bar­ri­cade as a driver waits at Saudi Ara­bia’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. Journalist Ja­mal Khashoggi, right, went into the con­sulate last week and has not been seen again. GETTY IM­AGES

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