Middle East

Turkey has more evidence Khashoggi murder was premeditated: Report

Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the crown prince, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October (AFP)

Turkey has more evidence contradicting the Saudi version of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including a second audio recording, a Turkish newspaper has reported.

The second voice recording, said to be 15 minutes long, clearly reveals that the murder of the Washington Post columnist had been premeditated, Hurriyet said on Friday.

On Thursday, Saudi public prosecutor Saud al-Mujeb said the country's deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, issued an order for Khashoggi to be brought back to Saudi Arabia “by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails… by force".

This differs from Mujeb's own statement on 25 October, apparently backed up by Friday's Hurriyet report, in which he said Khashoggi was a victim of premeditated murder.

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"Information from the Turkish authorities indicates that the act of the suspects in the Khashoggi case was premeditated," Saudi Arabia's state-run news agency, SPA, reported Mujeb as saying at the time.

On Thursday, Mujeb said that five Saudi officials faced the death penalty on charges of killing Khashoggi but exonerated the country's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of involvement in the murder.

Abdulkadir Selvi, a pro-government columnist at Hurriyet, said key findings in the Saudi prosecutor's statement did not overlap with the evidence in the hands of Turkey, including two voice recordings.

He claimed that the first seven-minute voice recording proves that Khashoggi was strangled but the second tape recorded shortly before the journalist stepped into the consulate clearly shows the murder was planned in advance.

The second tape proves the 15-member "killer team" seated inside the consulate before Khashoggi's arrival was discussing how to carry out the murder, he said.

Turkey also has evidence that the team made international calls after the murder, he added.

'Highest levels'

Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the crown prince, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Turkey has said the murder was carried out by a team of Saudis who travelled to Istanbul for that purpose, the AFP news agency reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order came from "the highest levels" of the Riyadh government, but stopped short of pointing the finger of blame at the crown prince.

Saudi prosecutors on Thursday announced indictments against 11 people and said a total of 21 individuals were in custody in connection with the killing.

It said execution would be recommended for five of them who "are charged with ordering and committing the crime".

Turkey however said the Saudi statement was "insufficient," with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisting that the killing was "premeditated".

Original Article

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