Turkey: US given audio of Khashoggi’s killing
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.