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Turkey cites evidence of Khashoggi's murder inside consulate

By Sheetal Sukhija, The London News
13 Oct 2018, 12:42 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Providing insight into how Turkey was able to quickly deduce that the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks back and never exited the building, Turkish authorities have now revealed the nature of the evidence they possess. 

According to a report in The Washington Post, Turkish authorities have informed U.S. officials that they are in possession of recordings from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which proves that the missing journalist was killed inside the building. 

Khashoggi goes missing

The 59-year-old journalist was a prominent critic of Saudi policies and decided to leave the Kingdom last year, fearing retribution for his criticism of Riyadh.

The self-exiled Washington Post columnist was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 and has been missing ever since.

He left his Turkish fiancé waiting outside as he entered the Consulate to get a document for his planned marriage. 

However, several days have passed since, but there has been no sign of Khashoggi's whereabouts. 

After initially seeking answers from Saudi Arabia, Turkey launched an investigation and sought to search the consulate building.

Following its investigation, Turkey alleged that Khashoggi was killed inside the building and published details of a group of 15 Saudi nationals who had arrived in Istanbul in two planes allegedly to carry out the act.

One of the 15 Saudi nationals cited in the report was identified as a forensic expert who has worked at the Saudi Interior Ministry for 20 years based on his LinkedIn profile. 

Britain subsequently voiced concerns over the fate of the missing journalist and urged the Saudi government to explain what happened. 

U.K. foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter, “Just met the Saudi ambassador to seek urgent answers over Jamal Khashoggi."

Hunt wrote, “Violence against journalists worldwide is going up and is a grave threat to freedom of expression. If media reports prove correct, we will treat the incident seriously - friendships depend on shared values."

With pressure on Saudi mounting, the U.S. administration too was pressed to confront the Kingdom. 

Subsequently, the U.S. President Donald Trump increased pressure on Saudi Arabia, and told reporters that he had raised Khashoggi’s case with Saudi Arabia “at the highest level.”

Trump said, “We’re demanding everything. We want to see what’s going on. It’s a very serious situation for us and for this White House ... We want to get to the bottom of it.”

However, in his brief response, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after the visit.

Further, the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. said that he "condemns ‘malicious leaks and grim rumours’ surrounding Khashoggi disappearance."

He added, "The reports that suggest that Jamal Khashoggi went missing in the Consulate in Istanbul or that the Kingdom’s authorities have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless."

Revealing the evidence

Now, U.S. and Turkish officials, along with other individuals briefed on the intelligence have revealed details of recordings in possession of Turkey.

The report suggested that the recordings in possession of Turkey include gruesome details about Khashoggi's death, including the journalist being interrogated, beaten, tortured and murdered. 

The existence of the tapes in question has been confirmed by both, U.S. and Turkish officials.

However, it remains unclear whether the tapes have been given to U.S. officials to review.

It is also not clear whether the U.S. may have its own tapes or other intelligence about the ongoings inside the consulate. 

After the expose, on Friday, Trump said that he was planning to call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman "pretty soon" about the issue.

The U.S. President said, "A lot of people are looking to find out because it is potentially a really, really terrible situation."

In addition, a State Department official said that the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spoke with Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Joint investigations begin

On Friday, Turkish sources quoted in a Reuters report said that a delegation from Saudi Arabia had arrived in Turkey as part of a joint investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

The report also noted that the Saudi delegation met a Turkish prosecutor investigating the case as well as representatives from the Justice Ministry, Interior Ministry, police and the national intelligence agency.

Sources noted that so far, there is no set date for how long the meetings will take, but “very quick results need to be seen.”

Further, the report quoted a Saudi source as revealing that Prince Khaled al-Faisal, a senior royal visited Turkey for talks on Thursday. 

According to the source, it was after this meeting that Turkey announced that the two countries had agreed to form a joint working group to investigate the case.

Turkey pointed out that the joint investigation was being approved on Riyadh's insistence and the Saudi State news agency SPA later quoted a Saudi official as welcoming Turkey’s approval of its request to form the joint team.

However, reiterating the Kingdom's stance, Saudi Arabia’s interior minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif was quoted in SPA as condemning the “lies and baseless allegations” against the kingdom.

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