Washington/Ankara : The Turkish government has informed American officials it has audio and video recordings proving that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared from his country’s consulate in Istanbul last week, was killed inside the building, according to US and Turkish officials. The recordings show a Saudi security team detained the Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, 59, in the consulate after he walked in on October 2 for paperwork before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the Post reported.
Saudi officials have denied any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, saying he left the consulate shortly after entering. It was unclear if the US officials have seen the footage or listened to the audio, but Turkish officials described the contents to their US counterparts, the newspaper said. The audio tape in particular provides the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team was responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said. “The voice recording from inside the Embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one person with knowledge of the recording, requesting anonymity. “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” the person said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” Another man said men could be heard beating Khashoggi, the report said.
The journalist has had long-standing ties to the Saudi royal family, but has written critically of the current government and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. President Trump called Khashoggi’s suspected killing “a terrible thing”, but stopped short of assigning blame. “We’re being very tough and we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened.” He was reluctant to take any action on Saudi, particularly on the issue of arms sales. “I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the US because… they’re going to take that money and spend it in Russia or China,” Trump said. “If it turns out to be as bad as it might be, there are other ways of handling the situation.” British tycoon Richard Branson said he was pulling back from two tourism projects in Saudi and suspended talks with Riyadh about a $1 billion investment in Virgin’s space firms. Meanwhile, a Saudi team reached Turkey for talks on the missing journalist.