The recordings that could reveal the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey in shocking detail have been shared with France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the US, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
“They all know since they all listened to the conversations and everything,” Erdogan said in a televised speech on Saturday.
Erdogan also accused Saudi Arabia of knowing that the killer of the former Washington Post columnist is among a group of 15 Saudis who touched down in Turkey the day prior to the killing, leaving again for Riyadh in the hours following Khashoggi’s death.
“Saudi Arabia could resolve this by making this 15 talk,” Erdogan said. “The murderers are surely among this 15 or 18, there’s no need to look elsewhere.”
Ankara has claimed to have had audio of the blood-curdling murder ever since the journalist went missing on October 2, after going inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, never to be seen again.
Unconfirmed reports of the contents of gruesome tape allege that Khashoggi was grabbed, drugged and dismembered on a tape with a bone saw. The voice attributed to a Saudi forensic evidence chief also suggests that others witnessing Khashoggi’s harrowing fate listened to music in order to drown out the sounds.
Western hypocrisy at its worst. Immediate sanctions all round for Russia, nothing but lame threats for Saudi. ‘Sawed while still alive’? Gruesome ‘taped’ details of Khashoggi’s alleged murder cause media stir — RT World News https://t.co/093o7ilIIg
— D. William Norris (@dwilliam9940) October 19, 2018
Saudi Arabia had initially denied that Khashoggi was killed inside the building, initially insisting that he left it. They later changed their story to say the journalist was accidentally killed in a fist fight after an argument broke out. Riyadh now insists that the killing was carried out in a rogue operation unbeknownst to the leadership.
However, Erdogan has insisted that Khashoggi had been killed on order from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.
The tapes will put further pressure on the Saudis’ Western allies to take action over the killing, who have so far taken a wait-and-see approach before sanctioning the regime. Riyadh is big buyer of Western military hardware, and US and EU leaders will also be under pressure to heed calls to block the billion-dollar arms sales agreed with the kingdom.
Last week, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel agreed that the outcome of the murder investigation could lead to EU-wide sanctions on Saudi Arabia, including a halt to arms sales.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, said on November 2 that Washington would need a “handful more weeks” before making a decision on potential sanctions. He did stress that President Trump would “demand accountability for those who were involved in the commission of this heinous crime.”
Meeting in Paris on Saturday, Macron and Trump agreed that full transparency was needed from Saudi authorities on the murder, adding that the killing should not be used to allow further destabilization in the region.
Pressure is also mounting on the Saudi Crown Prince and heir apparent Mohammad bin Salman, whose possible role in the killing has been much discussed in the media, prompting some to suggest that he may be replaced in the near future.