CIA Director Gina Haspel, in Turkey to investigate the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has sought to hear a purported audio recording of his torture and murder, four sources familiar with her mission told Reuters on Tuesday.
Haspel arrived in Turkey on Monday to gather hard evidence on Khashoggi’s murder, commissioned to develop a US account of the incident.
According to the Turkish officials quoted in global media outlets, Turkey has an audio recording proving that Saudi officials in the consulate brutally killed the 59-year-old journalist.
Reuters also published a story based on the Turkish sources suggesting that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had orchestrated the killing via a Skype call and that the Turkish government intercepted that call.
On Tuesday President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed that the Saudis planned the murder before Khashoggi’s arrival at the consulate but did not mention an audio recording.
Despite extensive news leaks claiming that Turkey has an audio recording documenting Khashoggi’s demise, neither the US nor allied government agencies had been granted access as of late Monday to such evidence, Western security officials told Reuters.
US President Donald Trump on Oct. 17 said they had received no audio recordings from Turkey.
Haspel will not visit Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.
Saudi officials deny permission to search well in consulate garden
Meanwhile, Saudi officials have denied permission to Turkish police to search a well in the garden of their consulate in İstanbul as part of an ongoing investigation into the death of Khashoggi, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday, citing security sources.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said police examined the consulate building but Saudi officials refused permission to search the consulate garden and well.
However, Turkish investigators were due to begin the search of a well in the garden of the Saudi consul general’s residence in İstanbul on Wednesday, broadcaster NTV said after Saudi officials had earlier refused to allow the search.
A joint Turkish-Saudi team searched the residence of the consul general as well as the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul last week as part of the investigation into the killing of Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After weeks of denying involvement in his disappearance, Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced that Khashoggi died in a fight inside the consulate.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday laid out his country’s initial findings in its investigation, saying Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated.”
World leaders have called on Riyadh to provide more concrete answers on his death amid a global outcry.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in İstanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the individual identified have since left Turkey.