Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday denied that audio recordings involving the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi were shared with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or any American official, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Speaking exclusively and on condition of anonymity to ABC News, a senior Turkish official on Thursday said Secretary of State Pompeo had heard an alleged audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in İstanbul. He said the recording was played in meetings in Turkey on Wednesday and that Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.
“It is out of the question that Turkey has shared any audio recording with Pompeo or any other US official,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu.
Khashoggi has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul on Oct. 2 to sort out marriage paperwork.
US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert also denied the claim, saying, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”
“I don’t have anything to say about that,” Pompeo said on Wednesday when he was asked if he had heard the audio. Pompeo met on Tuesday with Saudi King Salman and the crown prince seeking to defuse a crisis over missing journalist Khashoggi.
Turkish police question staff at the Saudi consulate in İstanbul
Meanwhile, Turkish prosecutors have begun questioning a number of locally hired employees of the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul over the disappearance of Khashoggi, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
As many as 15 Turkish staff members were being questioned on Friday, the report said, adding that the consul general’s driver, technicians, accountants, and telephone operators were among the those interrogated by prosecutors.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the consulate on Oct. 2. Reports say Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate by members of an assassination squad.
Meanwhile, a former head of Britain’s MI6 overseas intelligence agency said Khashoggi was probably killed on the orders of people close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. John Sawers, who headed MI6 between 2009 and 2014, said, “All the evidence points to it being ordered and carried out” by people close to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
Sawers told the BBC, “I don’t think he would have done this if he hadn’t thought he had the license from the US administration to frankly behave as he wished …”
Sawers said the fate of Khashoggi was a wake-up call to the Trump administration about “just how dangerous it is to have people acting with a sense that they have impunity in their relationship with the United States.”
Turkish police Monday searched the consulate for the first time since the disappearance of Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who had become increasingly critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SCF with turkishminute.com)