WORLD Saudi consul's home probed, as gory details emerge of Khashoggi death

WORLD

Saudi consul's home probed, as gory details emerge of Khashoggi death

CGTN

03:00, October 19, 2018

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Turkish police arrive at the Saudi Arabian consulate general residence in Istanbul, Turkey, October 17, 2018. (Photo: VCG )

Turkish investigators searched the Saudi consul's residence in Istanbul into the early hours of Thursday morning, as reports surfaced detailing how missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi met a grisly death, and US President Donald Trump fended off criticism he was covering for Riyadh's actions.

Here are the latest updates on the story. 

Was Khashoggi tortured and killed?

Turkish daily Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had access to audio recordings which confirmed Khashoggi was tortured and decapitated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The journalist, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the consulate on October 2 and hasn't been heard from since, quickly prompting claims that he was murdered on the premises. Riyadh has steadfastly denied the accusations.

Earlier media reports had already mentioned the existence of recordings of Khashoggi's death and torture.

Yeni Safak went into more gory detail however, claiming the journalist had his fingers cut off while being tortured and was later decapitated.

The newspaper also said that Saudi Arabia's consul to Istanbul Mohammed al-Otaibi – who left Turkey to return to Riyadh on Tuesday – could be heard on the recordings saying: "Do this outside. You are going to get me in trouble."

On another recording, an unidentified person told Otaibi: "If you want to live when you come to Saudi Arabia, be quiet!"

What have investigators found at the consulate?

After repeated delays, Turkish investigators were finally allowed into the Saudi consul's residence on Wednesday afternoon to conduct a search. A dozen police officers, prosecutors and forensic experts combed the property, including the garden and the roof, and a drone was also used to examine the scene from above.

The probe lasted around nine hours, after which the investigators conducted a second search of the nearby consulate.

During a first search on Monday, police found items that had been painted over to conceal evidence, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They had also taken soil and DNA samples.

Why has the US response been muted?

As the probe proceeded in Turkey, the Trump administration faced increasing criticism for its mild response in the Khashoggi case.

Speaking to Fox Business on Wednesday, Trump explained that the US needed Saudi Arabia, a traditional ally, in the fight against terrorism.

He later told reporters however: "I'm not giving cover at all (to Saudi Arabia)."

Trump said he was expecting a "full report" from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who this week traveled to Saudi Arabia and Turkey with instructions to find out what happened to Khashoggi, and that this should help clarify the journalist's fate.

"We will probably know that by the end of the week," Trump said.

After meeting with Saudi leaders on Tuesday, Pompeo said he had received pledges that Riyadh would conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Asked whether Khashoggi was dead however, he said he did not want "to talk about any of the facts. They didn't want to either."

Where's the evidence?

Trump said Wednesday he had asked Turkey to share any video or audio recordings about Khashoggi's possible killing.

Questions have swirled over whether Prince Mohammed – often depicted as the face of reform in conservative Saudi Arabia – was involved in the journalist's disappearance.

Trump said he was expecting a "full report" from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who this week traveled to Saudi Arabia and Turkey with instructions to find out what happened to Khashoggi, and that this should help clarify the journalist's fate.

"We will probably know that by the end of the week," Trump said.

After meeting with Saudi leaders on Tuesday, Pompeo said he had received pledges that Riyadh would conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Asked whether Khashoggi was dead however, he said he did not want "to talk about any of the facts. They didn't want to either."

Where's the evidence?

Trump said Wednesday he had asked Turkey to share any video or audio recordings about Khashoggi's possible killing.

Questions have swirled over whether Prince Mohammed – often depicted as the face of reform in conservative Saudi Arabia – was involved in the journalist's disappearance.

"We need to provide a platform for Arab voices," Khashoggi wrote, calling for "the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda."

The newspaper's Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said they had chosen not to publish the piece sooner as they hoped Khashoggi would soon return.

"Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post," she wrote.


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