‘CIA head heard Khashoggi killing tape’

Gina Haspel travelled to Turkey this week

Gina Haspel travelled to Turkey this week

CIA director Gina Haspel has heard audio recordings that Turkey claims capture the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, media reports say.

They say Ms Haspel was allowed to listen to the audio during a visit to Turkey earlier this week.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor was quoted as saying Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated”.

Khashoggi, a US-based critic of the Saudi government, was killed during a visit to its consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia initially denied all knowledge of the writer’s whereabouts when he went missing on October 2, but later admitted he was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, blaming “rogue agents”.

The Saudi prosecutor’s account came after investigations by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force, broadcaster al-Ekhbariya said.

Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said 38 members of staff at the Istanbul consulate had been questioned as witnesses.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported that on Thursday Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired the first meeting of a committee to reform the state’s intelligence services, which was set up following Mr Khashoggi’s death.

Last week Saudi Arabia sacked two key advisers to the prince, and arrested 18 people.

The case has strained relations with the US and other allies.

 

After the murder on October 2, Turkish media quoted officials as saying they had audio recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation and death, but gave no details about the contents or how the audio had been obtained.

Ms Haspel travelled to Turkey on Monday. On Wednesday Turkey’s Sabah newspaper said she had listened to the recordings.

Now, sources quoted by the Washington Post and Reuters news agency have backed up the reports.

A person “familiar with the audio” told the Washington Post that it was “compelling”.

Ms Haspel is due to brief President Trump on her visit later on Thursday.

On Wednesday Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is regarded as the country’s de facto ruler, vowed to punish those responsible.

However, media reports have quoted Turkish security sources as saying the operation was run by a top aide to Prince Mohammed.

The crown prince was speaking at a business forum in Riyadh, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”, which has been boycotted by a number of political and corporate leaders.

There is still no sign of the body.

The latest focus appears to be on a well in the garden of the Saudi consulate building. -BBC

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