ISTANBUL: A Turkish news website has published quotes and the identity of some speakers in two audio recordings revealing the last moments of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Citing Turkish security sources, Habertürk columnist Çetiner Çetin reported Nov. 19 that the first recording shows Khashoggi was seized by the Saudi hit squad immediately after he entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 at 1:14 p.m.
“Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?” Khashoggi was heard saying in the first recording from the consulate’s “A unit,” which houses the visa department.
According to the report, the quarrel between Khashoggi and four members of the hit squad could be heard in this recording for seven minutes.
The four Saudis then brought Khashoggi to the “B unit” of the consulate, which houses administrative departments. The four-minute-long recording from this section involves not only a verbal quarrel but also noises of a physical fight and then beating and torture.
MUTREB CALLS QAHTANI 19 TIMES:
Besides the four men, three more people could be heard in the recording, other than Khashoggi. According to the report, Turkish security sources concluded that one of them is Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, the alleged leader of the team who had travelled extensively with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The other person is Saudi Consul Mohammad al-Otaibi, while the third person’s identity is yet to be determined.
“Traitor! You will be brought to account!’” Mutreb is heard saying in the second recording as soon as Khashoggi was taken into the consulate’s B unit, the report added. Turkish officials reportedly said they concluded that this voice was Mutreb’s by matching it with his voice sample recorded by Turkish customs police during his entrance to the country from Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport hours before the murder.
The same voice could also be heard in 19 telephone calls from the consulate’s C unit, which houses the consul’s office. The phone calls, the first one made only 13 minutes after Khashoggi entered the consulate, were between Mutreb and Saud al-Qahtani, who was the top aide of the crown prince.
The sounds of beatings and torture that went on for 11 minutes are followed by an hour and 15-minute-long silence, during which Turkish officials believed the Saudi hit team started to operate frequency jammers. Three Saudi officials could then be heard coming down the stairs quickly with one of them locking the A unit’s door and the other deleting the security camera footage before removing the hard disks.
‘SPOOKY TO WEAR THESE CLOTHES’:
Another voice then breaks the silence in the recordings. “It is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago,” 57-year-old Saudi engineer Mustafa al-Modaini is heard saying as he prepares to act as the body double of Khashoggi under the Saudi hit squad’s instructions.
After he complains that Khashoggi’s derby shoes were too small for his feet, the hit squad is heard allowing al-Modaini to keep his own sneakers instead.
Wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, al-Modaini was seen in security camera footage around Istanbul’s tourist districts immediately after the killing in an attempt to mislead the police. Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi had written on Oct. 23 that his sneakers were one of the factors that revealed the plot.
Habertürk added that Turkish officials did not have any recordings from the C unit of the consulate in which Khashoggi’s body was thought to be dismembered. However, the fact that the walls of all three rooms in this section were painted immediately after the murder, as well as chemical remains found in the floors and the suspects’ fingerprints on electrical outlets, including those belonging to forensics expert Salah Mohammad al-Tubaighi, are seen as substantial evidence of a cover-up.
Turkey demands Saudi Arabia to reveal all the perpetrators and instigators of the murder and to reveal the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body and the identity of the “local cooperator” whom they accused of aiding the hit squad.
TURKISH MINISTER DENIES BUGGING:
Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said the Saudi consulate was not bugged by Turkey.
“The consulate was not bugged. We cannot reveal the source of the audio recordings,” Akar told the BBC on Nov. 19.
Akar replied to a question on whether Turkey would make the recordings public.
“At the moment, no. But it depends on the situation, according to the developments, under the control of the prosecutor,” he said.