Turkey yet to share Khashoggi audio, video evidence with U.S. -sources

October 18, 2018 - 8:48 AM
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Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London, Britain, September 29, 2018. Picture taken September 29, 2018. (Middle East Monitor/Handout via REUTERS)

WASHINGTON — Turkey has not shared with the U.S. government or key European allies graphic audio or video evidence it allegedly collected on U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s visit to Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, seven U.S. and European security officials told Reuters.

Two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance on Oct. 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 sources, who requested anonymity, spoke with Reuters on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak published on Wednesday what it said were details from audio recordings purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s torture and interrogation.

It reported that his torturers severed his fingers during an interrogation, and that Khashoggi was killed within minutes. According to the report, his body was later beheaded and dismembered by his killers.

A New York Times report on Wednesday cited a senior Turkish official confirming the details published by Yeni Safak. Two Turkish government officials contacted by Reuters declined to confirm the report.

Turkish sources told Reuters earlier this week that the authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and that they were sharing it with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The reluctance of the Turks to turn over hard evidence they have said they have documenting Khashoggi’s fate has led U.S. and European security officials to assess that the most brutal accounts of Khashoggi’s demise are likely accurate, the sources said.

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to confirm the lack of evidence in U.S. hands when he said on Wednesday that the United States had asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it may have related to Khashoggi.

“We have asked for it, if it exists … I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does,” Trump said.

“I’ll have a full report on that from Mike (Pompeo) when he comes back … That’s going to be the first question I ask,” he said.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies and columnist for the Washington Post who was living in the United States, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get marriage documents.

Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, is due to return on Wednesday from a trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where he met with leaders to discuss reports that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Pompeo has said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete an investigation into the disappearance of the journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Asked aboard his airplane whether he had heard any audio of Khashoggi’s capture, Pompeo declined to comment, but his spokeswoman later told reporters he had not.

The Saudis have strongly denied those allegations but U.S. media outlets have reported that they will acknowledge he was killed in a botched interrogation. —Editing by Mary Milliken; Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Steve Holland