Using facial recognition software, public records, social media accounts, various databases, leaked documents, and more, The New York Times was able to confirm that at least nine suspects in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi work for Saudi Arabia's security services, government ministries, or military.
Khashoggi vanished on Oct. 2, after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey has said 15 Saudi agents flew into Istanbul that day on private jets, murdered Khashoggi inside the consulate within two hours of his arrival, then left the country.
The Times reports that one of the suspects is Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a diplomat assigned to Saudi Arabia's embassy in London in 2007. He's been seen getting off airplanes with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris and Madrid and spotted in several photos taken of the crown prince during a recent visit to the United States. It's possible he was serving as a bodyguard. Other suspects include two members of the royal guard, a member of the security team who travels with the crown prince, and autopsy expert Dr. Salah al-Tubaigny, the Times reports.
Tubaigny, who holds a senior position in the Saudi Interior Ministry, could only be directed to do something by a high-ranking Saudi authority, the Times notes. This strikes a blow to the suggestion that rogue agents murdered Khashoggi unbeknownst to the crown prince. Both the crown prince and his father, King Salman, have denied knowing where Khashoggi is, and said he left the consulate on his own. None of the suspects could be reached for comment. Catherine Garcia
President Trump defended Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, telling The Associated Press it wasn't fair to condemn the country over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkey has said he was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate, and on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official told AP "certain evidence" was found that proved Khashoggi was murdered there.
Trump tweeted earlier in the day that he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who "totally denied any knowledge" of what happened to Khashoggi, and he told AP: "I think we have to find out what happened first. Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned." Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and narrowly won confirmation to the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia
In a preview clip of a CBS interview to air Sunday, President Trump promised "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if it is confirmed, as Turkey alleges, that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered last week inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
"Nobody knows yet" if the Turkish allegations are true, Trump told 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl. "But we'll probably be able to find out," he continued. "It's being investigated. It's being looked at very strongly, and we'll be very upset and angry if that were the case."
The United States has no ambassador to Turkey or Saudi Arabia as Trump has not nominated anyone to fill either post.
The president did not specify exactly what punishment he would prefer, though he shied away from proposals to cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia, claiming that would lead to job losses in the U.S. defense industry. Trump also worked in a jab at the press in his remarks, noting Stahl would "be surprised to hear" him say there's "something really terrible and disgusting" about the murder of a journalist.
Watch the preview clip below. The full interview will air Sunday on CBS at 7:30 p.m. Eastern and 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Bonnie Kristian
Turkish security officials have reportedly obtained audio and video recordings proving missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered last week inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — and the audio files may have been recorded by Khashoggi himself.
The journalist activated the recording function on his Apple watch before entering the consulate, a Turkish newspaper reported Saturday, citing "reliable sources in a special intelligence department." Khashoggi's "interrogation, torture, and killing were audio recorded and sent to both his phone and to iCloud," the report says. Some files were deleted from the watch, the paper noted, but only after the sync completed.
Some tech experts have expressed skepticism that Turkish authorities could have obtained recordings from Khashoggi's watch without access to the watch itself. The device usually needs to be within a certain proximity of a linked iPhone to upload content to the cloud. Also questionable is the paper's report that Saudi interrogators could have unlocked the watch using Khashoggi's fingerprint, as that is not a capability Apple's product description mentions.
Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance. Bonnie Kristian
Report: Turkey tells U.S. it has audio, video recordings proving missing Saudi journalist was killed
Turkish security officials have told the United States they have both audio and video recordings that definitively prove missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered last week inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, U.S. and Turkish officials told The Washington Post on Thursday.
Khashoggi, a columnist for the Post and a U.S. resident, went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to get a document he needed for his wedding, and he hasn't been heard from since. One official told the Post that on the audio recording, "you can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic," and another said men can be heard beating Khashoggi. After he was killed, Khashoggi was reportedly dismembered. Turkey does not want to release the recordings over fears it would expose how they spy on foreigners in the country, the Post reports.
Saudi Arabia has denied being involved in Khashoggi's disappearance. Prior to his disappearance, the U.S. reportedly intercepted discussions between Saudi officials about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordering an operation to get Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia, where he would be detained. Khashoggi had ties to the royal family, and had been critical of the government, but agreed with some of the crown prince's policies. The crown prince is close to President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and while Trump on Thursday called the suspected murder "a terrible thing," he quickly added that the U.S. will not stop selling arms to the Saudis, because "that doesn't help us — not when it comes to jobs and not when it comes to our companies losing out on that work." Catherine Garcia
Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post writer and critic of the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, hasn't been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi operatives who then dismembered his body to hide the evidence. In what The Washington Post describes as "another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance," anonymous U.S. intelligence officials told the paper that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman once "ordered an operation to lure" Khashoggi from the U.S., where he's a resident, back to his native country.
While Khashoggi's alleged murder in the midst of a softened U.S.-Saudi relationship may be a "looming diplomatic crisis" for President Trump, it's more of a "personal reckoning" for Jared Kushner, The New York Times writes. The president's son-in-law and senior adviser has had dinner with bin Salman both in Washington and the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He encouraged selling $110 billion of weapons to the Saudi military. And he apparently hoped bin Salman would approve of his forthcoming Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The crown prince, meanwhile, once reportedly bragged about having Kushner "in his pocket."
But even before Khashoggi was allegedly assassinated, Kushner's relationship with the crown prince had reportedly been fraying. Congress' reluctance to sell the full $110 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia may have already led to a falling out between the two men, the Times says. While Kushner declined to comment to the paper, a person close to him attested to his efforts on behalf of Khashoggi, saying the White House advisor had relayed a letter from the Post publisher to bin Salman and has taken other "unspecified steps."
The U.S. has no ambassador in Turkey or Saudi Arabia as it enters the diplomatic knife fight over journalist Jamal Khashoggi
President Trump is under increasing pressure to find out if Saudi Arabia really murdered or abducted dissident Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an Oct. 2 visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as Turkey says. A bipartisan group of 22 senators sent Trump a letter on Wednesday triggering a law that forces the administration to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance, leading to sanctions if Saudi Arabia is found responsible.
The White House insists Trump is taking the situation seriously. The Trump administration is "very engaged on this issue," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Wednesday. "Senior officials, diplomats are speaking to both the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the government of Turkey, and we're using diplomatic channels." At the same time, Palladino tiptoed around the fact that the U.S. has no ambassador to either country, as Associated Press reporter Matt Lee pointed out:
Q: Who again — what's the name of the ambassador in Turkey right now?
PALLADINO: I don't have that in front of me right now and I – Matt —
Q: What's the name of the ambassador in Saudi Arabia right now?
PALLADINO: I see what you're getting at. Okay. We are confident in our diplomatic —
Q: The answer is that you don't have an ambassador in either place, right?
PALLADINO: We —
Q: And in fact, the charge in Riyadh has now been nominated to be the ambassador to Yemen. So just is it correct that you do not have ambassadors in place in either Ankara or Riyadh?
PALLADINO: But we have diplomatic staff, senior diplomatic officials —
Q: I'm sure you do. [State Department transcript]
Palladino went on to "reiterate our request for our colleagues in the Senate" to help the State Department "get its full team on the field," and Lee asked who Trump wanted the Senate to confirm to the vacant Saudi and Turkey ambassadorships. Palladino said he didn't "have that in front of me right now." "You're sure someone's been nominated for both positions?" Lee asked. Palladino said he'd have to check. According to the American Foreign Service Association, Trump has nominated nobody for either ambassadorship. Peter Weber
U.S. intelligence intercepted Saudi Arabian officials discussing a plan ordered by the crown prince to lure journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the United States back to Saudi Arabia, where he would be detained, U.S. officials told The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Khashoggi went missing last week after he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document he needed to get married. Turkish officials are adamant that Khashoggi, a columnist for the Post, was killed inside the consulate by a Saudi hit squad. Saudi Arabia has denied any wrongdoing and says he left the consulate on his own.
Khashoggi, who lived in Virginia as a U.S. resident applying for citizenship, was critical of his homeland, but friends say he did not oppose all of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies. Friends told the Post that several senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince contacted Khashoggi and told him they wanted him to take a job in the government. He was skeptical, and did not believe they'd offer him the protection they were promising.
Also on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators urged President Trump to impose sanctions on anyone found to be connected with Khashoggi's disappearance. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is close to the crown prince. Catherine Garcia