Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Nov. 12 became the first Western leader to acknowledge his country had heard and received recordings of the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, while Turkey slammed France over the issue.
“Canada has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share,” Trudeau said from Paris, where he was attending the Peace Forum following the WWI Armistice centenary.
His comments come just days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he had given recordings “to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them.”
The Canadian leader is the first since that announcement to officially confirm that “yes” his country’s intelligence had listened to the audio. He said Canada’s intelligence agencies had been working “very closely” with Turkish intelligence on Khashoggi’s killing.
The shared audio is the latest measure by Turkey to maintain international pressure on Saudi Arabia in its aim to stop a cover up of the Oct. 2 killing.
Trudeau said that he himself had not heard the audio, and he wouldn’t give any details on the contents of the tapes.
Turkey slams ‘unacceptable’ French statements
Regarding Erdoğan’s statement to have shared the Khashoggi killing audio, France’s account somewhat differed from Canada’s.
When questioned on France 2 television Nov. 12, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Turkey has “not to my knowledge” given the French government any such recordings, and suggested the Turks were playing games.
“If the Turkish president has information to give to us, he must give it to us,” Le Drian said.
“That means he has a political game in this situation,” Le Drian added, referring to Erdoğan.
Turkey slammed Le Drian’s statement as “unacceptable” on Nov. 12.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu described the French statement as “impoliteness” while condenmning Le Drian for “speaking in a way that violates the seriousness of a foreign minister.”
Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, also criticized the French minister. “We find it unacceptable that he accused President Erdoğan of ‘playing political games,'” he told AFP.
Altun added that Turkey gave this evidence to French intelligence on Oct. 24, including transcripts of the recordings.
“If there is lack of communication between France’s state institutions, they will be the one to solve this problem, not Turkey,” he added. “Turkey continues to work on this case so that all the details will be revealed. Let us not forget that this case would have been already covered up had it not been for Turkey’s determined efforts.”
CIA Director Gina Haspel, who visited Turkey last month for information on the investigation, is reported to have heard the recordings, the existence of which was leaked to the media but never openly confirmed until Nov. 10.
Also on Nov. 12, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was in Saudi Arabia where he met King Salman and was expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Hunt – the first British minister to visit Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was killed – said he would press the kingdom to fully cooperate with a Turkish investigation into the writer’s killing.
“The international community remain united in horror and outrage at the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi one month ago. It is clearly unacceptable that the full circumstances behind his murder still remain unclear,” Hunt said in a statement ahead of landing in Riyadh.
A statement by the state-run Saudi News Agency did not make any references to Khashoggi, saying only that King Salman and Hunt discussed bilateral relations and the latest developments in the region.
The crown prince is widely suspected of at least having knowledge of the killing, which involved some members of his security entourage. Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince who was living in self-imposed exile before his death.
Under mounting pressure, Saudi Arabia has changed its narrative about Khashoggi’s killing, first saying that he walked out of the embassy the day he disappeared before eventually acknowledging Khashoggi died inside the consulate. Saudi Arabia has also recently acknowledged Turkish evidence that showed the slaying was premeditated.
Turkey says a 15-member Saudi assassination squad strangled and dismembered Khashoggiat the consulate. Media reports have suggested that his body could have been chemically dissolved as it has not yet been found.
Saudi officials characterize the killing as a rogue operation carried out by Saudi agents who exceeded their authority.