Khashoggi murder: CIA Director Gina Haspel 'heard Khashoggi audio'

27 October, 2018, 03:15 | Author: Kevin Carter
  • AFP | Saudi Arabia has long been a key ally of Saad Hariri

Saudi officials initially denied having anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance after he entered the consulate on October 2, before changing the official account to say an internal investigation suggested he was accidentally killed in a botched operation to return him to the kingdom.

Turkish officials say a 15-man Saudi team killed the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

CIA Director Gina Haspel listened to audio purportedly capturing the interrogation and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, giving a key member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet access to the evidence used by Turkey to accuse Saudi Arabia of premeditated murder. "He's running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him". He says the president will make a decision that reflects the values and national security interests of the nation and will also "make sure the world knows the truth".

Mr Trump had previously backed the Saudi's official explanation, characterising the Arab state as a great ally and an important purchaser of USA tanks, bombs and planes.

Meanwhile, the crown prince has attended the first meeting of a committee aiming to restructure the kingdom's intelligence services after the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

"Haspel, who departed for a secret trip to Turkey on Monday, heard the audio during her visit, according to people familiar with her meetings", said the US daily.

Speaking at an investment conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, bin Salman described Khashoggi's killing as "a heinous crime that can not be justified".

Trump spoke Sunday with the crown prince, who is the son of Saudi King Salman.

Later in the day, Trump described the killing and the following cover-up as "a total fiasco". The newspaper said Trump declined to say whether he believed the crown prince's denials.

Two of the crown prince's closest aides were among five high-ranking officials fired over Khashoggi's death, CNN reports, although MBS denies any knowledge of the murder.

Speaking at an investment conference in Riyadh, due to end on Thursday, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged there would be "no rupture" in ties with Ankara, after the killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul triggered a diplomatic crisis.

More news: Saudi Attorney General: Turkish evidence points to Khashoggi murder being premeditated

Trump said any USA response should not involve scrapping billions of dollars in arms sales, which would hurt US defence industries and eliminate U.S.jobs.

It was the kind of language you would expect to hear from a leading figure of a country that has just had a citizen killed in one of its consulates.

Whatever the USA response, US ties with its Gulf ally have hit rough waters.

Trump doesn't like that he and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner have been depicted as overly cozy with the Saudis.

On Tuesday the U.S. president voiced his strongest criticism of the Saudi government to date and suggested the crown prince must have known what was going on.

"Mohammed Salman needs Trump - his very survival depends on Trump working with him", said Indyk, now at the Council on Foreign Relations.

After decades of Saudi Arabia buying U.S. weapons and enjoying Washington's protection, Grappo doubted Saudi Arabia could easily switch to another supplier such as Russian Federation or China. He said administration officials have their "eyes wide open".

I want to see the facts first.

"In this particular case I haven't the slightest doubt that the Western allies have got to take a stand over the butchering of Mr Khashoggi", Lord Heseltine told the BBC. "There are a lot of setbacks".

Bruce Riedel, former Central Intelligence Agency official and scholar at the Brookings Institution said: "This puts the ball firmly in Washington's court".

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