CIA director listens to audio of journalist’s alleged murder

CIA director listens to audio of journalist’s alleged murder

"Jamal's family needs a place to be together where they feel safe to mourn their beloved one", said Randa Slim, director of conflict resolution at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, who knew the slain journalist personally.

Erdogan on Tuesday described for parliament what he said was a premeditated plot by Saudi Arabia to kill Khashoggi when the journalist visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2 to get documents he needed to marry his fiancée, Turkish national Hatice Cengiz.

Turkish security sources say that when Khashoggi entered the consulate, he was seized by 15 Saudi intelligence operatives who had flown in on two jets just hours before.

In a speech timed to coincide with the start of a three-day global business conference in Riyadh on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the Saudi narrative and said that Khashoggi's murder was planned in Riyadh.

Gary Grappo, a former USA ambassador to Oman and deputy chief of mission in Riyadh, said that Mohammed had solidified power to a level where he is unlikely to be removed - but that Western powers would be increasingly wary of him after Khashoggi's death.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said its Saudi arms sales were "under review", a stance similar to that expressed by Australia.

The Saudi disclosure came after Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel heard an audio recording of the killing during a fact-finding visit to Turkey this week.

Saudi authorities staged the "worst cover-up ever" in the killing of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump has said as the U.S. announced its first punitive action in the case by revoking the visas of some of the senior Saudi officials involved.

For Saudi Arabia's allies, the burning question has been whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability in the killing, a possibility raised by several U.S. legislators. Saudi prosecutors said Thursday that Turkish evidence indicates that the killing was premeditated.

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After denying Khashoggi's death for almost three weeks, the kingdom last week said the columnist was accidentally killed after a discussion at the consulate turned into an altercation.

Saudi Arabia has always been a key ally of Hariri, while Riyadh's regional foe Iran backs Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said all culprits would be punished, and that Saudi and Turkey would work together 'to reach results'.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto leader, has denied having knowledge of the mission and on Wednesday promised to bring those responsible to justice.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara was determined not to allow any cover-up, a day after calling for those responsible for the killing to face justice.

As part of that probe, Turkish police in Istanbul have been granted permission to search a well in the garden of the Saudi consulate, broadcaster NTV said on Wednesday.

Dampening speculation he could be pushed aside, the prince appeared relaxed, ebullient and conciliatory toward Turkey, which has stopped just short of blaming him for the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"We are making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of action to silence Mr Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Bahout said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could pressure Saudi Arabia to fix ties with Turkish ally Qatar, which is under an embargo from Persian Gulf Arab states, or to ease pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood, which the kingdom has seen as a threat for its role in Arab Spring protests.

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