A Turkish newspaper has released quotes from an audio tape which reportedly captured last moments of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The Washington Post columnist is heard demanding to be freed:
Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?
Habertürk newspaper, citing security sources, released the gruesome quotes on Monday.
The paper alleges the recordings show that the journalist was seized by the Saudi squad right after he entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Khashoggi and four members of the squad are heard quarrelling for at least 7 minutes. This part takes place in the A unit of the consulate which hosts the visa department.
Then it’s heard how the 59-year-old was brought to the B unit, which hosts the administrative department. The 4-minute audio recording in that unit includes not only the sounds of a quarrel but also fighting.
Apart from four men from the Saudi squad and Khashoggi, three more men are heard in the audio tape. Turkish security sources reportedly identified one of them as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb. He was named by Turkish authorizes as the leader of a 15-man ‘kill team’.
In the second part of the recording, Mutreb calls Khashoggi, who was taken into the consulate’s B unit, a “traitor.”
Traitor! You will be brought to account!
Another voice is heard in the recording. It belongs to 57-year-old Saudi engineer Mustafa al-Madaini who posed as Khashoggi’s lookalike:
It is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago.
Madani is seen leaving the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul via the rear entrance, wearing the clothes that Khashoggi wore on October 2, according to video recordings. Madani also wears a fake beard and glasses to appear more like the journalist.
Information about the audio tape of Khashoggi’s murder has been circulating in the media for quite some time. Turkish authorities said they’ve obtained the gruesome tape and shared it with several countries, including the US. However, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar denied that the Saudi consulate had been bugged by Ankara. “We cannot reveal the source of the audio recordings,” Akar told the BBC on Monday.
The audio even reached Donald Trump. However, he refused to listen to the recording because “it’s a suffering tape.” He assured that he was “fully briefed” on the contents of the recording. It’s a “very violent, very vicious and terrible” tape.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and never came back out. Almost immediately after his disappearance, the Turkish authorities said the journalist had been murdered inside the consulate, alleging that his assassination was sanctioned at the highest levels of the Saudi government.
Riyadh initially denied killing the journalist but later changed its stance on the issue, several times. Most recently, the Saudi public prosecutor admitted that the journalist was murdered in an intelligence operation gone wrong. The prosecutor said he was seeking the death penalty for five individuals accused of “ordering and committing” his murder.