A Turkish daily says the audio recordings related to the gruesome murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi – which is widely believed to have been ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – are expected to be released this week, and that the revelations will “shake the world” and “turn the Saudi palace upside down.”
Yeni Safak’s editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Karagul, wrote in a column on Monday that it was necessary to present “new evidence” regarding the instructions on Khashoggi’s murder at Riyadh consulate in Istanbul as well as its organisation, preparations and perpetration.
“Today or this week seems to be the most convenient time to do this,” it said. “The conversations among the murderers, their conversations with Riyadh after committing the murder, dialogues that will prove the crown prince was the one who directly gave the order.”
It also noted that the leaks would probably implicate Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Tel Aviv and Washington in the murder case.
The new evidence, the report said, would expose “perhaps the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egyptian intelligence’s role in the incident, and as a matter of fact, information on Israeli intelligence’s expertise or on the US leg of the murder.”
“Information of this kind will shake the world, lead to tremors in the region, turn the Saudi palace upside down, and create brand new situations in the region’s power structuring,” it added.
The report further stressed that the US-Israel-Saudi Arabia-UAE axis is tampering with evidence in a bid to save the crown prince, adding, however, that he can no longer be shielded from the murder’s fallout, and that cover-up operations will not work.
Khashoggi, a one-time royal insider who had been critical of the crown prince recently, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.
Following weeks of denial of any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Saudi Arabia regime eventually acknowledged the “premeditated” murder, but has sought to distance the heir to the Saudi throne from the assassination.
A Saudi prosecutor said Khashoggi’s body had been dismembered, removed from the diplomatic mission and handed to an unidentified “local cooperator.”
The CIA is said to have concluded that the crown prince was behind the killing, but US President Donald Trump is yet to endorse the assessment.
Jubeir dismisses CIA report
Separately on Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the reports, including by the CIA, that the heir to the Saudi throne gave the order to kill Khashoggi were false.
“We in the kingdom know that such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth and we categorically reject them, whether through leaks or not,” he said in an interview with Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
Jubeir also touched on recent remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the kill order came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.
“We have already asked the Turkish authorities at the highest level about the meaning of these comments, and they confirmed to us categorically that the crown prince is not meant by these comments,” he said.
Khashoggi’s final words recorded
Additionally on Monday, Turkish newspaper Haberturk reported that the audio recordings of Khashoggi’s murder indicate that he was accosted by four members of a Saudi hit squad shortly after he entered the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
“Let my hand go. Who do you think you are? Why are you doing this?” the report quotes Khashoggi as saying, as the Saudi agents pulled him into a room.
“You traitor! Your day of judgment has come!” Maher Mutreb, the coordinator of the Saudi team, is quoted as having said to Khashoggi before the journalist was tortured and murdered.
Later, Khashoggi’s body double Mustafa al-Madani is heard saying, “It’s really creepy that I am wearing the clothes of someone who was killed minutes ago.” He also complains that Khashoggi’s shoes are too tight for his feet.
Turkey denies bugging Saudi mission
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara did not obtain the recordings of Khashoggi’s murder by bugging the Saudi consulate.
“There was no surveillance within the consulate [and] we will not reveal the source of the recordings,” he told the BBC on Monday. “There was no bugging.”
Turkey would not make the recordings public, but such a decision would “depend on the situation,” with the public prosecution office being responsible for it, he added.
‘Pompeo gave Riyadh plan to save bin Salman’
In another development on Monday, a senior Saudi source told the Middle East Eye news portal that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had delivered a plan to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the crown prince to shield them from the murder scandal, during a meeting in Riyadh last month.
The source said the US initiative includes an option to pin the Saudi journalist’s murder on an innocent member of the Al Saud family, but that person has not yet been chosen.
Saudi leaders are reserving the use of the plan in case the pressure on bin Salman becomes too much, he pointed out, emphasizing, “We would not be surprised if that happens.”
‘Bin Salman can’t escape’
Speaking on Tuesday, a Turkish opposition party leader said the Saudi crown prince could not escape the scandal and that Riyadh shares the same mentality as Osama bin Ladin, former leader the al-Qaeda terror group.
“The circle is tightening around the crown prince, paths to escape and salvation are closed,” Devlet Bahceli said.
“What is the difference between the Saudi administration and the mentality of Osama bin Laden? What separates this country from al-Qaeda?” he asked.
France mulls anti-Saudi sanctions
Amid growing international calls for sanctions on the Saudi regime over the murder, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio on Monday that Paris would decide very soon to impose sanctions on individuals linked to the case.
“We are working very closely with Germany at this moment … and we will decide ourselves a certain number of sanctions very quickly over what we know (about the murder),” he replied when asked about whether France would follow Germany in imposing travel bans on Saudi individuals.
“But we believe that we need to go beyond that, because the whole truth needs to be known,” he added.
Le Drian further stressed that Paris wanted to have all the facts in place before making a decision.
“We want all the truth to be established and today it’s not the case. When I say all the truth, I mean the circumstances, those responsible need to be designated and once we’ve decided ourselves on the subject then we’ll take the necessary sanctions,” he said.