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Audio offers gruesome betails of Khashoggi killing, Turkish official says

18 October, 2018, 06:20 | Author: Shawna Walton
  • Trump Speaks to Saudi King, Sends Pompeo for Follow-Up

"We always expected the contribution to be finalised in the [northern autumn] time frame", Brett McGurk, the State Department's envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, said.

The apparent murder of Khashoggi, a former royal insider who became a critic of the crown prince's crackdown on women activists, journalists, and other dissidents, presents the biggest challenge to Saudi relations since the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. No one is going to defend activity of that nature.

"No, not at all, I just want to find out what's happening", Trump said.

USA intelligence reports, accounts from Khashoggi's friends, passport records and social media profiles paint a picture of a brutal killing that at least had its roots in Mohammed's desire to silence Khashoggi, a former palace insider turned critic of the government and the prince in particular.

Even if an investigation into what happened to Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul exonerates the prince and the top Saudi leadership, the administration's deep reliance on him will be severely tested not least because of broad bipartisan revulsion in Congress to as-yet unconfirmed accounts of Khashoggi's fate.

Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who previously worked as a diplomat at the Saudi embassy in London, has been photographed with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on recent trips to Madrid and Paris, as well as the United States, The New York Times has revealed.

"It depends if the king or crown prince knew about it, in my opinion", Trump said, "Number one, what happened?" Pro-government Turkish daily Yeni Safak reported it had audio recordings of the reporter being tortured, first having his fingers cut off and being decapitated.

However, Trump said "we will probably know that by the end of the week" after he got a "full report" from Secretary of State Pompeo upon his return from Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Trump's previous warnings over the case drew an angry response Sunday from Saudi Arabia and its state-linked media, including a suggestion that Riyadh could wield its oil production as a weapon.

But it will be hard for the young ruler to escape scrutiny, as mounting evidence points not only to the Saudi government's knowledge of Khashoggi's fate, but to Mohammed's connection to his disappearance.

He was last seen October 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork he needed to get married.

Turkish police and forensic experts on Wednesday began searching the residence of the Saudi consul in Istanbul, an AFP correspondent saw.

President Donald Trump has responded equivocally, both promising harsh action if the royal court is implicated in Khashoggi's disappearance and saying he'd be reluctant to cancel multibillion-dollar arms sales to the kingdom. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, but provided no evidence he left the consulate.

Earlier in the day, a Saudi delegation had also arrived at the building to take part in what is presented as a joint search with their Turkish counterparts.

Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old crown prince, said the United States has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence.

Two weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance on October 2, the United States and allies have collected some intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the sources said.

The newspaper said it gathered more information about the suspects through facial recognition software, a database of Saudi mobile phone numbers, leaked Saudi government documents, witnesses and media.

He arrived there from Riyadh where, he said, the Saudis "made a commitment that they would show the entire world the results of their investigation". According to the report, his body was later beheaded and dismembered by his killers.

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