Turkish officials have told the U.S. that they have proof that a missing Washington Post columnist was tortured, murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, the Post reported.
Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance set off a firestorm of accusations, criticism and political tension after the Saudi national failed to return from a visit to the consulate on Oct. 2. Some U.S. officials, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., say the case may strain U.S.-Saudi relations and threaten to block billions of dollars in arms sales to America’s strong ally in the Middle East.
Thursday’s revelation by the Post cited unnamed Turkish and U.S. officials, who said their information is based on surveillance tapes and covert audio recordings made without the knowledge of Saudi officials. The officials said they did not want to publicly release the recordings because they would divulge how the Turks spy on foreign nationals.
“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” the Post quotes one of the unnamed officials as saying. “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic . . . You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”
Saudi officials have denied any wrongdoing in Khashoggi’s disappearance and claim that he left the consulate, where he had gone to obtain official documents before his upcoming wedding, shortly after his arrival.
A critic of the Saudi regime living in self-imposed exile in the U.S., Khashoggi has not been seen since that day.
Turkish media on Wednesday published the names of 15 Saudi nationals who traveled to Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared. One of them is the head of a forensic department in Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services. Others appear to be Saudi agents of one kind or another, according to Turkey’s Sabah newspaper.
President Donald Trump and his top advisers have cultivated a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Trump has touted the Saudi Arabian government’s promise to buy “lots of beautiful military equipment” from the U.S.