Turkey says it has proof missing Saudi journalist was killed

Updated October 12, 2018 - 2:45 pm

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video proof that missing Saudi Arabian writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The newspaper, for which Khashoggi is a columnist, cited anonymous officials as saying the recordings show a Saudi security team detained the writer when he went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding.

The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm the report and Turkish officials would not comment.

President Donald Trump said Friday he will soon speak with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Trump called it a “serious situation” and pledged that the U.S. government will find out what happened to the journalist. U.S. officials say they are seeking answers from the Saudi government, and are not yet accepting the Turkish government’s conclusions.

Trump said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will evaluate at a later date whether to attend a Saudi investor conference later this month. Mnuchin had indicated earlier Friday he still planned to attend.

Meanwhile, a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey on Friday as part of an investigation into the writer’s disappearance, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Saudi Arabia has called the allegation it abducted or harmed Khashoggi “baseless.” However, it has offered no evidence to support its claim he left the consulate and vanished, despite his fiancee waiting outside.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the delegation would hold talks with Turkish officials over the weekend. It did not provide further details.

On Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey and Saudi Arabia would form a “joint working group” to look into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Saudi Arabia welcomed Turkey’s approval of the joint working group. The Saudi statement said the kingdom is keen “to sustain the security and safety of its citizenry, wherever they might happen to be.”

Amid growing concern over Khashoggi’s fate, French President Emmanuel Macron said country wanted to know “the whole truth” about the writer’s disappearance, calling the early details about the case “very worrying.”

Macron said “I’m waiting for the truth and complete clarity to be made” since the matter is “very serious.” He spoke Friday in Yerevan, Armenia, to French broadcasters RFI and France 24.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Berlin was also “very concerned” about the writer’s disappearance and called on Saudi Arabia to “participate fully” in clearing up reports that he may have been killed.

Plea from fiancee

The fiancee of the missing Saudi journalist on Friday urged President Donald Trump to use his clout to find out what happened to her partner.

Following a Turkish court’s decision to free American evangelical pastor, Trump tweeted: “Working very hard on Pastor (Andrew) Brunson!”

That prompted Hatice Cengiz to ask about her missing fiancee.

“What about Jamal Khashoggi?” she tweeted.

Trump on Thursday said U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia were “excellent” and that he doesn’t want to scuttle highly lucrative arms deals with Riyadh.

Business impacts

Global business leaders, however, began reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Khashoggi.

British billionaire Richard Branson on Friday suspended business links with Saudi Arabia, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he might not attend a major investment conference in the country this month.

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old journalist who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has introduced reforms but has shown little tolerance for criticism.

Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year. As a contributor to the Washington Post, he has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of activists and businessmen.

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