October 23, 2018 15:49:39
What started as an unexplained disappearance has spiralled into a diplomatic crisis for Saudi Arabia and horrified the rest of the world.
It took over two weeks for the Kingdom to acknowledge journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Since then, the explanations Saudi Arabia has offered for the death have failed to satisfy its Western allies.
Here’s how the evidence of foul play mounted.
Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2
He was there to get the documents he needed for his upcoming marriage to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
According to the Washington Post, before entering the consulate, he gave her his phone and instructions to call a Turkish official if he didn’t return.
Ms Cengiz says she waited outside the consulate for hours for him to come back out, but he never did.
The reason for concern was that Khashoggi had been a vocal critic of the Saudi Government and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. He’d spent the past year in self-imposed exile in America following a crackdown on activists in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s initial explanation was that he’d left the consulate and they didn’t know where he was
The line from Saudi officials was that he’d left via a back entrance, explaining why his fiancee didn’t see him.
Saudi officials called accusations that he’d been killed “baseless” and said it was helping search for him.
The consul-general even took Reuters through the six levels of the consulate building to show Khashoggi wasn’t there.
But Turkish sources had a different explanation: Khashoggi had been killed
Turkish sources told Reuters on October 7 about their suspicions of foul play.
“We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one official said.
Over the past two weeks, Turkish sources have continued to release evidence and now Saudi Arabia itself admits Khashoggi died inside the consulate (though it hasn’t explained what happened to the body and nor has it settled on a clear narrative).
Evidence 1: Khashoggi was never seen or heard from again
This was the basic fact crying out for an explanation.
CCTV footage shows he walked in, but there’s no footage of Khashoggi leaving the consulate. Not only that, but he never got in touch with friends or family, and was never seen anywhere else.
Evidence 2: Turkish officials said they had audio and video of what happened inside
The descriptions of this evidence are grim.
“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” a Turkish official told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity.
“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”
Turkey hasn’t explained how it got this alleged audio, and it’s a sensitive subject (Turkish officials told the Washington Post that this could divulge their spy practices).
Meanwhile, another person “briefed on the matter” told the New York Times that Turkish intelligence had obtained a video the Saudis themselves had made of the killing in order to prove it took place.
Last week, US President Donald Trump said America had asked Turkey for any evidence it had.
“We have asked for it, if it exists. I’m not sure yet that it exists. Probably does, possibly does,” he said.
Evidence 3: CCTV showed an alleged Saudi hit squad arriving in Turkey
Turkish sources said a team of 15 Saudi intelligence agents and government officials flew in to Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared, and returned to Saudi Arabia later that same day.
The video above shows some of them at a Turkish passport control.
Turkish sources say the men entered the consulate building around the same time as Khashoggi. They suspect a black van then carried his body out of the consulate.
Evidence 4: Why was an autopsy expert at the consulate?
Turkish authorities say Dr Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic pathologist with a senior position in the Saudi Interior Ministry, was a member of the alleged Saudi hit squad.
They say he was carrying a bone saw when he arrived in Istanbul.
It’s alleged he had the job of dismembering Khashoggi.
Evidence 5: It looks like a body double was used to support Saudi Arabia’s initial explanation
Surveillance footage broadcast by CNN showed a man walking out of the consulate wearing what looked like Khashoggi’s clothes.
The dress shirt, suit jacket and pants were all the same, although he was wearing different shoes.
A Turkish official told CNN the man was a member of the alleged Saudi hit team.
Video shows the man walking out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice; taking a taxi to Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque; and going to a public bathroom where he changed back out of the clothes.
October 23, 2018 15:40:01