Turkish Officials: Recordings Prove Saudi Journalist Was Killed Inside Consulate

Audio and video sources show dissident Jamal Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered by a Saudi security team, Washington Post reports

A pedestrian walks past the entrance to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, October 12, 2018.
AFP

Turkey says it has audio and video sources that prove Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing Turkish and American officials.

According to the article, Turkey told U.S. officials about the material, which sources say provides evidence that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate before killing him and dismembering his body. 

Germany said it is "very concerned" about the disappearance of Khashoggi, and is calling on Saudi Arabia to "participate fully" in clearing up reports that he may have been killed, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

At the same time, a Saudi delegation arrived in Ankara Friday and is expected to meet with Turkish authorities over the weekend, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu. 

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Post, was last seen on October 2 entering the consulate to obtain documents related to his forthcoming marriage. His fiancée, waiting outside, said he never emerged and Turkish sources said they believed he was killed inside the mission.

Jamal Khashoggi looks on during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, December 15, 2014.
AFP

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"The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered," The Post quoted a source with knowledge of the recording as saying. "You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, the paper reported that U.S. intelligence knew about a Saudi plan to capture Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies.

According to the article, which quoted a person familiar with the communications, it is unclear whether the Saudis sought to capture Khashoggi to interrogate him or kill him. It is also unknown if the United States warned the journalist that he was a target, the source said.

Turkey said Tuesday that it would search the consulate, and close ally Britain called on Riyadh to provide "urgent answers" about Khashoggi's disappearance. The U.S. State Department said it did not know what happened to Khashoggi and whether he was still alive.

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Saudi Arabia has dismissed as baseless accusations that it killed or abducted Khashoggi, and on Tuesday Turkey's state-owned Anadolu agency said Riyadh had invited Turkish experts and other officials to visit the consulate.

'Forced disappearance'

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia last year saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy over the Yemen war and his country's crackdown on dissent. Since then he has written opinion pieces for The Post. His disappearance sparked global concern.

In an essay in the paper, Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, implored U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania to "help shed light on Jamal's disappearance."

"Although my hope slowly fades away each passing day, I remain confident that Jamal is still alive," Cengiz wrote.

"Perhaps I’m simply trying to hide from the thought that I have lost a great man whose love I had earned."

Trump said Tuesday he planned to speak with the Saudis, but he did not  elaborate. Speaking at the White House, he said he did not have details about Khashoggi's disappearance

The UN human rights office urged both Turkey and Saudi Arabia to investigate what it called the "apparent enforced disappearance" and possible murder of Khashoggi.

"We call for cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to make the findings public," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said at a news briefing in Geneva.

The two countries have such an obligation under both criminal law and international human rights law, she added.

In July, the UN human rights office called on Saudi Arabia to release all peaceful activists, including women held for campaigning against a ban on driving as it was being lifted.

Khashoggi was once a Saudi newspaper editor and is a familiar face on political talk shows on Arab satellite television networks. He also advised Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States and Britain.

His disappearance is likely to further deepen divisions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to Qatar last year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.