Jamal Khashoggi murder tapes exist and were 'shared' with multiple countries

Officials from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Germany, France and Britain have listened to audio recordings related to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey’s President has said, in the first public acknowledgement of the existence of tapes of the slaying.

Key points:

  • Turkey says Saudi officials have listened to the audio tapes
  • President Erdogan has accused the Saudi prosecutor of “delaying tactics”
  • The leaders of the US and France agree Saudi authorities need to shed light on the murder

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told reporters that Saudi Arabia had to “act fairly” and disclose those responsible for the October 2 killing of The Washington Post journalist to rid itself of “suspicion”.

“We gave them the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them,” Mr Erdogan said.

“They [Saudi officials] also listened to the conversations and … they know for certain who among the 15 is the killer or are the killers,” he said.

He was referring to an alleged 15-member assassination squad that Turkey believes was sent to kill Mr Khashoggi at the consulate where he had arrived to obtain papers to marry his Turkish fiancee.

CIA director Gina Haspel, who visited Turkey last month for information on the investigation, is reported to have heard the audio recordings of the killing.

The existence of the recordings was leaked to the media but never openly confirmed until now.

Turkey says Mr Khashoggi, who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was strangled and dismembered at the consulate as part of a premeditated killing.

Media reports have suggested that his body could have been chemically dissolved.

Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 suspects who have been detained in Saudi Arabia, so they can be put on trial in Turkey.

They include the 15 members of the alleged assassination squad.

Saudi Arabia had insisted for weeks after Mr Khashoggi disappeared that he had walked out of the consulate, before changing its account to say he died in a brawl.

Last month, Saudi Arabia shifted its explanation in an apparent effort to ease international outrage over the death, characterising the killing as a rogue operation carried out by Saudi agents who exceeded their authority.

Mr Erdogan accused Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor, who was sent to Istanbul last month as part of a joint probe, of employing “delaying tactics.”

“Saudi Arabia needs to accept that [the killer] is among the 18 and needs to get rid of the suspicion by responding to Turkey’s good will and acting fairly,” he said.

Following a meeting on Saturday in Paris, US President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron agreed that the Saudi authorities needed to shed full light on Khashoggi’s murder, a French presidency source said.

They also agreed that the matter should not be allowed to cause further destabilisation in the Middle East and that it could create an opportunity to find a political resolution to the war in Yemen, according to the official.

AP/Reuters