Turkish defence minister says killers of Khashoggi may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey in a luggage
David Taylor in New York and agencies- The Guardian
Donald Trump has refused to listen to audio tape of the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while saying the killing was “vicious”.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, the president told presenter Chris Wallace: “I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape.”
The news follows the CIA’s conclusion that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which further jeopardizes the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and is likely to damage the Saudi leadership and its standing in the world.
In Trump’s pre-recorded interview with Fox, it emerged that he told the TV channel that Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month was “very violent, very vicious and terrible”. The Turkish authorities had said soon after Khashoggi went missing that there was audio tape of his killing, although the White House was slow to acknowledge this.
After telling Wallace that he wouldn’t listen to the tape, during the Fox interview at the White House, the presenter then asks him: “Why don’t you want to hear it, Sir?”
The president replies: “It’s a suffering tape. It’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it.”
Trump has announced there will be a government report on Tuesday assessing the details and impact of the killing and possible options for the US response.
Republican senator Lindsey Graham said on NBC’s meet the press on Sunday morning: “If [MBS] is going to be the face and the voice of Saudi Arabia going forward, the kingdom will have a hard time on the world stage … when it comes to the crown prince, he’s irrational, he’s unhinged, and I think he’s done a lot of damage to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. And I have no intention of working with him ever again.”
Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto)
New: President Trump said he declined to hear the tape of Khashoggi’s killing: “I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape,” he told Fox’s Chris Wallace, “It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.”
Trump has been equivocal on both the role of Bin Salman and how strong the US response should be towards Saudi Arabia, a key trading partner and ally in the Middle East.
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Meanwhile it also emerged early Sunday that the killers of Khashoggi may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey in a luggage, the Turkish defence minister, Hulusi Akar, has been quoted as saying by broadcaster CNN Turk.
Khashoggi, a US resident, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, sparking global outrage against the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Bin Salman (often known as MBS).
Riyadh had offered numerous contradictory explanations for his disappearance, before saying Khashoggi was killed after “negotiations” to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Speaking at a panel as part of an international conference in Halifax, Canada, Akar said Khashoggi’s killers may have taken the journalist’s body parts out of Turkey in luggage.
On Sunday, CNN Turk cited Akar as saying: “One probability is that they left the country three to four hours after committing the murder. They may have taken out Khashoggi’s dismembered corpse inside luggage without facing problems due to their diplomatic immunity.”
Turkey has said a group of 15 individuals, including a two-man “clean-up team”, was involved and that Khashoggi’s body had been dismembered. Turkish officials have also called for an investigation into whether the body was dissolved in acid.
Saudi public prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said on Thursday that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered, removed from the building and handed to an unidentified “local cooperator“.
More than a month after the murder, Turkey is trying to maintain pressure on the crown prince, releasing a stream of evidence that undermined Riyadh’s early denials.
On Saturday Trump, called a CIA assessment blaming the crown prince for the killing “very premature” and said he would receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday.
Turkey says it has recordings related to the killing that it shared with western allies. One Turkish official told Reuters that officials who heard the recordings, which include Khashoggi’s killing and conversations leading up to the operation, were horrified but their countries had done nothing.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau last week was the first western head of state to acknowledge having heard a recording of Khashoggi’s death.
On Thursday, without naming them, Shalaan said the Saudi prosecutor had requested the death penalty for five individuals “charged with ordering and committing the crime, and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals”.
He said 11 of 21 suspects had been indicted and would be referred to court, while investigations of the remaining suspects would continue.
However, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said he was not satisfied with Shalaan’s statement, pushing Riyadh to disclose the location of Khashoggi’s remains and calling for the suspects to be tried in Turkey.