Khashoggi mur­der: UK, US and Saudis ‘have record­ing’

The Independent - - World - BORZOU DARAGAHI IN IS­TAN­BUL

Turkey has given record­ings of the killing of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi to Saudi Ara­bia, Bri­tain, the US, Ger­many and France, its pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said yes­ter­day in the first official pub­lic ac­knowl­edge­ment that the Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist’s fi­nal mo­ments were taped.

Un­named Turkish and US of­fi­cials have pre­vi­ously told jour­nal­ists that au­thor­i­ties had an au­dio record­ing pur­port­edly doc­u­ment­ing the tor­ture and killing of the jour­nal­ist, who was a high-pro­file critic of Saudi govern­ment and Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man. But Mr Er­do­gan’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure that the

record­ings ex­ist will add pressure to the Saudi regime and in­crease ten­sions be­tween Riyadh and its al­lies in Wash­ing­ton, Lon­don and Paris.

“We gave the record­ings,” Mr Er­do­gan an­nounced in a tele­vised speech in Ankara just be­fore he was to board a plane and head to Paris for cer­e­monies mark­ing the cen­ten­nial of Ar­mistice Day. “We gave them to Saudi Ara­bia. We gave them to Wash­ing­ton, to the Ger­mans, to the French, to the English. They all know, since they all lis­tened to the con­ver­sa­tions and ev­ery­thing.”

Mr Er­do­gan’s dis­clo­sure came as Turkish au­thor­i­ties said they were end­ing the search for Mr Khashoggi’s body, which of­fi­cials say they as­sume was dis­mem­bered and pos­si­bly dis­solved in acid. How­ever, they in­sisted the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion will con­tinue. Mr Khashoggi was mur­dered on 2 Oc­to­ber by a team of Saudi se­cu­rity of­fi­cials who lured him him into the coun­try’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul and then killed him in what Saudis ad­mit was a “pre­med­i­tated” plot.

Saudi Ara­bia ini­tially tried to cover up the killing by claim­ing the jour­nal­ist had left the build­ing, but later said he had died in a fist­fight be­fore even­tu­ally ac­knowl­edg­ing he was mur­dered as part of a pre­planned scheme. Saudi au­thor­i­ties say they have ar­rested 18 sus­pects. Turkey wants them to be ex­tra­dited to face le­gal pro­ceed­ings.

Turks have grown in­creas­ingly frus­trated at what they de­scribe as a lack of co­op­er­a­tion on the part of Saudi of­fi­cials, whom they have ac­cused of try­ing to run out the clock on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They are also dis­ap­pointed with the western re­sponse, which they say ap­pears to be aimed at main­tain­ing the crown prince as de facto ruler. They see re­cent western ac­tions, such as cur­tail­ing co­op­er­a­tion with the Saudi-led war in Ye­men, as in­suf­fi­cient and mere win­dow dress­ing.

On Fri­day, the US leaked word it would no longer be re­fu­elling planes en­gaged in devastating bomb­ing runs over Ye­men, just hours be­fore Saudi Ara­bia’s official press agency an­nounced it was ask­ing the US to halt the lo­gis­tics sup­port.

Mr Er­do­gan’s dis­clo­sure will add to the heat al­ready on of­fi­cials in western cap­i­tals to an­swer for their con­tin­ued ro­bust ties with Saudi Ara­bia, which is viewed by western of­fi­cials as a premier mar­ket for weapons sales, and a source of sta­bil­ity in the Mid­dle East.

“We want to make sure that no as­pect of Khashoggi’s mur­der stays in the dark,” a se­nior Turkish official told The In­de­pen­dent. “Shar­ing the ev­i­dence with our friends and al­lies re­flects that ap­proach.”

Reuters cited un­named French of­fi­cials as say­ing that French pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and US pres­i­dent Donald Trump spoke about the Khashoggi mat­ter in a closed-door Paris meet­ing ahead of Ar­mistice Day com­mem­o­ra­tions.

Mr Er­do­gan has claimed the or­der to kill Mr Khashoggi came from the “high­est lev­els” of Saudi govern­ment, al­though he re­frained from di­rectly ac­cus­ing the king­dom’s de facto ruler, the crown prince, who an­a­lysts say he would like to see se­verely weak­ened or pos­si­bly re­moved from his post. Mr Er­do­gan also said Saudi Ara­bia knows the killer was one of the group who went to the am­bas­sador’s residence in Turkey.

“The 15 peo­ple who came to Is­tan­bul [from Saudi Ara­bia], who are also among 18 de­tained by Saudi au­thor­i­ties, surely know who killed Ja­mal Khashoggi and where his body is. Saudi Ara­bia could re­solve this by mak­ing this 15 talk,” he said in his speech. ”The mur­der­ers are surely among this 15 or 18. There’s no need to look else­where.”

Turkey’s pres­i­dent ad­mit­ted the jour­nal­ist’s last mo­ments were taped (Getty)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.