Er­do­gan: Saudi of­fi­cials, oth­ers heard tapes of writer’s death

The Times-Tribune - - WORLD -

ANKARA, Turkey — Of­fi­cials from Saudi Ara­bia, the United States, Ger­many, France and Bri­tain have lis­tened to au­dio record­ings re­lated to the killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Turkey’s pres­i­dent said Satur­day, in the first pub­lic ac­knowl­edge­ment of the ex­is­tence of tapes of the slay­ing.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan also told re­porters that Saudi Ara­bia had to “act fairly” and dis­close those re­spon­si­ble for the Oct. 2 killing of The Washington Post jour­nal­ist to rid it­self of “sus­pi­cion.”

“We gave them the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Ara­bia, to Amer­ica, to the Ger­mans, the French, to the Bri­tish, to all of them,” Er­do­gan said be­fore de­part­ing for Paris to at­tend cer­e­monies mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of World War I.

“They (Saudi of­fi­cials) also lis­tened to the con­ver­sa­tions and they know. There is no need to dis­tort this. They know for cer­tain who among the 15 is the killer or are the killers,” he said.

He was re­fer­ring to an al­leged 15-mem­ber as­sas­si­na­tion squad that Turkey be­lieves was sent to kill Khashoggi at the con­sulate where he had ar­rived to ob­tain pa­pers to marry his Turkish fi­ancee.

CIA Di­rec­tor Gina Haspel, who vis­ited Turkey last month for in­for­ma­tion on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, is re­ported to have heard the au­dio record­ings of the killing. The ex­is­tence of the record­ings was leaked to the me­dia but never openly con­firmed un­til now.

Turkey says Khashoggi, who was crit­i­cal of Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, was stran­gled and dis­mem­bered at the con­sulate as part of a pre­med­i­tated killing. Me­dia re­ports have sug­gested that his body could have been chem­i­cally dis­solved.

Turkey is seek­ing the ex­tra­di­tion of 18 sus­pects who have been de­tained in Saudi Ara­bia, so they can be put on trial in Turkey. They in­clude the 15 mem­bers of the al­leged as­sas­si­na­tion squad.

Saudi Ara­bia had in­sisted for weeks af­ter Khashoggi dis­ap­peared that he had walked out of the con­sulate, be­fore chang­ing its ac­count to say he died in a brawl.

Last month, Saudi Ara­bia ac­knowl­edged that Turkish ev­i­dence in­di­cates that Khashoggi’s killing was pre­med­i­tated, shift­ing its ex­pla­na­tion in an ap­par­ent ef­fort to ease in­ter­na­tional out­rage over the death.

Saudi of­fi­cials char­ac­ter­ize the killing as a rogue oper­a­tion car­ried out by Saudi agents who ex­ceeded their author­ity. Yet some of those im­pli­cated in the killing are close to the crown prince, in­clud­ing a mem­ber of the prince’s en­tourage on for­eign trips who was seen at the con­sulate be­fore Khashoggi’s slay­ing.

Er­do­gan ac­cused Saudi Ara­bia’s chief pros­e­cu­tor, who was sent to Is­tan­bul last month as part of a joint probe, of em­ploy­ing “de­lay­ing tac­tics.”

“Saudi Ara­bia needs to ac­cept that (the killer) is among the 18 and needs to get rid of the sus­pi­cion by re­spond­ing to Turkey’s good will and act­ing fairly,” Er­do­gan said.

BURHAN OZBILICI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan at­tends a wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony Satur­day in Ankara, Turkey, at the mau­soleum of the na­tion’s found­ing fa­ther, Mustafa Ke­mal Ataturk, to mark the 80th an­niver­sary of his death.

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