Monday 19 November 2018

Journalist's body double seen on clip as Erdogan to break silence

A still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by TRT World claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted in a red circle by the source, as he stands with his fiancee Hatice Cengiz outside the Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 2, 2018. Courtesy TRT World/Handout via Reuters
A still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by TRT World claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted in a red circle by the source, as he stands with his fiancee Hatice Cengiz outside the Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 2, 2018. Courtesy TRT World/Handout via Reuters

Josie Ensor in Istanbul

Turkey promised it would today reveal all the details of the "nefarious murder" of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after leaked CCTV footage of a body double appeared to contradict the kingdom's official explanation.

Ibrahim Kalin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman, vowed yesterday that nothing would stay secret in the ongoing saga of the 'Washington Post' columnist.

A Saudi operative allegedly exited the consulate after Mr Khashoggi was killed wearing his clothes, a fake beard, and glasses Credit: CNN
A Saudi operative allegedly exited the consulate after Mr Khashoggi was killed wearing his clothes, a fake beard, and glasses Credit: CNN

"Nothing will remain secret in this case," Mr Kalin told reporters in Ankara. "There is a great responsibility on the Saudi authorities to shed light on the case."

Saudi Arabia, which at first said Mr Khashoggi had left the consulate in Istanbul alive on October 2, claimed over the weekend that he was accidentally killed in a "fist-fight".

Mr Erdogan appears not to have been satisfied with the Saudi theory and is now preparing to put forward Turkey's own narrative in a speech later today.

Elsewhere, Saud al-Qahtani, a senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was yesterday under intense scrutiny after Reuters reported allegations about his involvement. The news agency cited a high-ranking Saudi source who said Mr Qahtani was beamed into a room of the consulate via Skype to question Mr Khashoggi.

The pair reportedly traded insults then, according to a Turkish intelligence source quoted by Reuters, Mr Qahtani said: "Bring me the head of the dog." The 'Daily Telegraph' was not able to verify the claims independently.

Mr Qahtani was dismissed as the kingdom's royal court adviser on Saturday. Saudi and Turkish sources quoted by Reuters said that Mr Erdogan had an audio tape of the Skype call but had not shared it with the Americans.

Meanwhile, the surveillance footage published yesterday by CNN appeared to show one of the 15-member "hit squad" posing as a body double for Mr Khashoggi. The images show the decoy leaving the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by the back door, wearing the 60-year-old's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses, in an attempt to make it appear that the journalist had left alive.

The man on the footage has been identified as Mustafa al-Madani, an official who was allegedly brought in from Riyadh to Turkey especially to act as Mr Khashoggi's impersonator.

Four hours earlier, Mr Madani (57), who is of similar height, age and build to Mr Khashoggi but sporting considerably more hair, entered the building by the front door, without a beard, wearing a blue and white checked shirt and dark blue trousers.

"Khashoggi's clothes were probably still warm when Madani put them on," a senior Turkish official told CNN.

Footage then shows him leaving the consulate with an accomplice, before he makes his way to Istanbul's Blue Mosque, where he dumps Mr Khashoggi's clothes.

Saudi Arabia initially claimed that Mr Khashoggi had exited the consulate through the back door, although footage of the double was never released to back up their claim.

Separate footage, published by the Turkish broadcaster A Haber yesterday, showed Saudi consular personnel burning documents inside the consulate compound a day after Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, told Fox News on Sunday that Mr Khashoggi's killing was "a rogue operation" and that "we don't know where the body is".

Turkish investigators were chasing several leads yesterday, including the discovery of one of the cars that left the consulate, which was found parked in a private car park in Istanbul city centre.

It also emerged that the alleged leader of the death squad made four telephone calls from the consulate in Turkey to Prince Mohammed's office hours after Mr Khashoggi was killed.

Mr Erdogan has, so far, stopped short of directly pointing the finger at Riyadh. Analysts say he preferred to authorise the leak of incriminating information to pro-government media to pressure the kingdom.

But he is to speak for the first time at length about the case today at a gathering of officials from his Justice and Development Party (AKP), in which he has promised to reveal the "naked truth".

The timing of the controversy could not be worse for the crown prince as he prepared to host a key investment summit, overshadowed by big-name cancellations. The Future Investment Initiative starts today and was intended to draw leading investors who could help underwrite heir apparent Prince Mohammed's ambitious plans to revamp the economy. But it could instead highlight its growing isolation.

Irish Independent

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