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Saudi Arabia

Surveillance video shows Jamal Khashoggi’s ‘body double’ left Saudi consulate in Istanbul after killing

  • The man then took a taxi to a mosque and went to a public bathroom to change his clothes
  • Saudi Arabia’s claim on Saturday that Khashoggi died in a ‘fist-fight’ met international scepticism
PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 9:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 10:52am

A man appearing to wear Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul following his killing there, according to a surveillance video, while a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office around the same time, reports said on Monday.

The reports by CNN and a pro-government Turkish newspaper came just a day before Prince Mohammed’s high-profile investment summit is to begin in Riyadh and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that details of Khashoggi’s killing “will be revealed in all its nakedness”.

That yet again adds to the pressure Saudi Arabia faces over the slaying of The Washington Post columnist. The kingdom’s claim on Saturday that Khashoggi died in a “fist-fight” met international scepticism and allegations of a cover-up to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.

US President Donald Trump said Monday he was “not satisfied” with Riyadh’s explanation of how the journalist died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Asked if he believed the Saudis were telling the truth about the circumstances surrounding the 59-year-old’s death three weeks ago, Trump told reporters at the White House: “We will know very soon.”

“I am going to know very shortly because I have a great group of people in Turkey right now and a great group of people in Saudi Arabia,” Trump said.

Turkish media reports and officials maintain that a 15-member Saudi team flew to Istanbul on October 2, knowing Khashoggi would arrive for a document he needed to get married. Once he was inside the diplomatic mission, the Saudis accosted Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, killed and dismembered the 59-year-old writer.

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CNN aired surveillance footage on Monday showing the man in Khashoggi’s dress shirt, suit jacket and pants. It cited a Turkish official as describing the man as a “body double” and a member of the Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer.

The man is seen in the footage walking out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice, then taking a taxi to Istanbul’s famed Sultan Ahmed Mosque, where he went into a public bathroom, changed back out of the clothes and left.

The state-run broadcaster TRT later also reported that a man who entered the consulate building was seen leaving the building in Khashoggi’s clothes.

In the days after Khashoggi vanished, Saudi officials initially said that he had left the consulate, implying premeditation on the part of the Saudi team.

“After Turkish authorities and the media were allowed to inspect the consulate building in its entirety, the accusations changed to the outrageous claim that he was murdered, in the consulate, during business hours, and with dozens of staff and visitors in the building,” Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of the crown prince, wrote on October 8. “I don’t know who is behind these claims, or their intentions, nor do I care frankly.”

A separate report by newspaper Yeni Safak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on trips to the US, France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate. The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed’s office. It said another call went to the United States.

Yeni Safak cited no source for the information. However, pro-government newspapers have been leaking information about Khashoggi’s killing, apparently with the help of Turkish security forces. Yeni Safak reported last week that Saudi officials cut off Khashoggi’s fingers and then decapitated him at the consulate as his fiancée waited outside.

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Last week, a leaked photograph apparently taken from surveillance footage showed Mutreb at the consulate, just ahead of Khashoggi’s arrival.

Mutreb’s name also matches that of a first secretary who once served as a diplomat at the Saudi embassy in London, according to a 2007 list compiled by the British Foreign Office.

Five Turkish employees of the consulate also gave testimonies to prosecutors on Monday, Turkish media reported. Istanbul’s chief prosecutor had summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony.

Some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse