The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday his country shared recordings related to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and a number of European countries.
"We gave the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, Germans, French and British, all of them. They have listened to all the conversations in them. They know," Erdogan said in Ankara as he left Turkey to attend World War One armistice commemorations in Paris along with other world leaders.
Turkish prosecutors showed that a team of 15 Saudi agents arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 2, the same day Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate. The Saudi government denied the accusations for weeks, but later changed their narrative and confirmed that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a rogue operation of which the crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) supposedly had no idea about.
“We don’t have documents, there are no findings. But there’s information. These 15 people, with all certainty, know who is the murderer, how and where he took the body,” continued Erdogan.
According to Riyadh’s official declarations, the body was handed over to a “local collaborator.”
Erdogan has that demanded the Saudi authorities reveal the name of the “local collaborator,” if there is one, and the name of the killer, who he thinks is among the 15 agents that suddenly flew to Istanbul.
"There's no need to distort this issue, they know for certain that the killer, or the killers, is among these 15 people. Saudi Arabia's government can disclose this by making these 15 people talk," Erdogan said.
Many people have had access to the several audio recordings related to Khashoggi’s murder, but these have not been made public for various reasons. The CIA director Gina Haspel heard at least one of them when she visited Istanbul after the controversy broke out. Saudi officials have also listened to it.
The audio recordings are said to include evidence of the killing itself and even the planning, proving it was a premeditated operation. As evidence surfaced and Erdogan claimed that Turkish prosecutors knew the operation was ordered at the ‘highest levels’ of the Saudi government, they had no other choice but to admit the murder was planned beforehand, with the claim that the crown prince was not aware of it.
A Turkish official said last week that Saudi Arabia sent two people, a chemist and a toxicologist, to Istanbul a week after Khashoggi's killing to erase evidence, calling it a sign that top Saudi officials knew of the crime.
One of Prince Mohammed's top aides, Saud Qahtani, featured prominently in the recordings, sources who had access to them said. Qahtani gave orders over Skype to Khashoggi’s killers at the consulate, according to Reuters. He has been reportedly sacked by King Salman, along with four other officials, over the killing. Also, some of the officials among the 15 suspects are said to have been arrested in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia had sent a prosecutor, Saud Mojeb to Turkey to answer questions about the murder, but Erdogan said that the only outcome of the Saudi prosecutor's visit to Istanbul was an invitation for the Turkish prosecutor to visit Saudi Arabia.
“What would our prosecutor do there? The crime scene is here. We must speak here. Even the consul left. There’s no sense in prolonging things this way,” he said. "The prosecutor came to Turkey to make excuses, make things difficult.”
During his visit, Mojeb revealed no information to Turkish authorities, a source said, but instead asked for Khashoggi's mobile phones which the journalist had left with his fiancee before entering the consulate.
Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get some papers for his marriage when he went missing. His murder sparked international outrage, with some European countries halting future arms sales to the kingdom. The U.S. and other world powers, however, have remained floundered on taking action against one of their biggest allies in the region.