Turkey obtains recordings of Khashoggi’s murder: Paper [HAS TURKEY BUGGED THE KSA EMBASSY?]

Members of Human Rights Association (IHD) hold portraits of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 9, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Members of Human Rights Association (IHD) hold portraits of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 9, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey has obtained recordings indicating that prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and killed at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, a Turkish  newspaper reported on Saturday.

The recordings were made on his Apple Watch which synced with his iPhone being carried outside the consulate by Khashoggi’s finacee, the pro-government Sabah daily reported.

“The moments when Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and murdered were recorded in the Apple Watch’s memory,” the paper said.

Senior Turkish officials have previously been quoted as saying that Khashoggi was wearing a black Apple watch when he entered the consulate and that it was connected to a mobile phone he left outside.

Sabah cited “reliable sources in a special intelligence department” as saying that Khashoggi is believed to have turned on the recording feature on the phone before entering the consulate.

According to the paper, Saudi intelligence agents had realized after the killing that the phone was recording and they used Khashoggi finger print to unlock it, deleting some files but not all of them.

The recordings were subsequently found on his phone, the paper said.

On Thursday, a Saudi delegation including senior royal Prince Khaled al-Faisal arrived in Turkey and the two sides agreed to form a joint working group at Riyadh’s initiative to investigate the case.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif on Friday praised the joint investigation with Turkey as he broke a deafening silence on the murder, condemning what he called “lies and baseless allegations” against the kingdom.

“What has been circulating about orders to kill him are lies and baseless allegations,” he was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying in a statement.

According to Turkish sources, the initial assessment of the police is that Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, has been deliberately killed inside the consulate.

Former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan told CBS News Friday he was “95 percent certain” that Saudi Arabia killed Khashoggi.

“I have seen no explanation from the Saudis as to how we could see video of Jamal going into the consulate, but not coming out,” said Jordan.

“Their explanation that their closed circuit TV is only a live feed and not recording makes no sense at all and would be absurd in terms of security tradecraft.”

Asked if he had any reason to doubt reports that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, Jordan replied, “I’d say it’s about 95 percent certain.”

Khashoggi, a Virginia-based critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 for some paperwork regarding his divorce, but never exited the mission.

News of his disappearance broke out after Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, who was waiting outside the diplomatic building, called the police.

The Washington Post, to which Khashoggi contributed as a columnist, has said the Turkish government had told US officials it had audio and video recordings showing how Khashoggi was “interrogated, tortured and then murdered” by a 15-member Saudi security team inside the consulate before his body was dismembered.

The suspected assassins had made a mysterious one-day trip from Riyadh to Istanbul the day Khashoggi vanished at the consulate.

America’s ‘commercial’ concerns 

The US initially opted to remain silent, but after the news of the incident became viral, President Donald Trump brazenly said Thursday that he was not willing to throw away billions of dollars in military deals with Saudi Arabia.

Major US weapons companies have contacted the administration to express concerns about the fate of lucrative arms exports to the kingdom over Khashoggi’s suspected murder.

Reuters quoted a senior US official as saying Friday that the contractors were worried Congress would stall billions in weapons sales to Riyadh.

However, Trump described Washington’s relations with Riyadh as “excellent” and made it clear that whatever the outcome of the inquiry into the disappearance of Khashoggi, the US would not forgo the arms deals.

“What good does that do us?” Trump asked. “This took place in Turkey and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen.”

Businesses boycott Riyadh summit

Global business leaders, however, said they were reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia and boycotting the Future Investment Initiative conference due in Riyadh on October 23-25.

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said he would not be attending the upcoming event. The Financial Times, Bloomberg, CNN and CNBC have also withdrawn as media sponsors of the summit.

British billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, said that he was halting talks over a $1 billion investment by Saudi Arabia in the company’s space ventures.

Additionally, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that he might not attend the Riyadh investment conference.

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