A transcript of a tape recording of murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s final minutes has been leaked, in which one of the alleged killers is heard calling him a “traitor”.
The 11-minute audio, the contents of which are revealed for the first time, was released on Monday evening by Turkish news website Haberturk.
“Let my hand go. Who do you think you are? Why are you doing this?” the report quotes Khashoggi as saying, as several members of an alleged 15-man “hit squad” accost him as soon as he enters the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.
“You traitor! Your day of judgment has come!” a man alleged to be Maher Mutreb, the suspected oordinator of the mission who worked for some time in the kingdom’s embassy in London, is quoted as replying to the Washington Post columnist.
Khashoggi and four members of the squad are heard quarrelling for at least seven minutes before the audio goes quiet.
The report adds that a later recording captures another “hitman”, Mustafa al-Madani, who was used as a body double to Khashoggi, saying: “It’s really creepy that I am wearing the clothes of someone who was killed minutes ago.”
He is also reportedly heard saying that Khashoggi’s shoes are too tight for his feet. In CCTV video footage taken from the back entrance of the consulate Madani is seen several hours after the murder wearing Khashoggi’s clothes but with his own trainers.
The tapes have been leaked by the Turkish government to a number of local media outlets, however none have published the reportedly gruesome audio.
Devlet Bahceli, a politician in Turkey’s main nationalist party, warned on Tuesday that “the circle is tightening” around Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
They have been played to a number of Saudi’s allies, including the US and the UK. Gina Haspel, CIA Director, has listened to them, but President Donald Trump revealed on Sunday that he did not want to listen to them himself.
“It was very violent, very vicious and terrible,” he said.
Over the weekend, the US president called reports that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing “premature.” He said that it was “possible” and that it was also possible that people will never know the truth.
Mr Trump faces increasing pressure to take tougher measures against Riyadh, amid a growing consensus that the crown prince, who has unchallenged power in the ultraconservative kingdom, must have known about the operation.
France’s top diplomat said Monday that his country was mulling sanctions against Saudi Arabia. Germany on Monday announced that it has banned 18 Saudi nationals from entering Europe’s border-free Schengen zone because of their suspected connections to the killing.
German officials, who earlier banned new weapons exports to Riyadh, also said they are halting previously approved arms exports.
Late last week, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation that calls for suspending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia; sanctions on people who block humanitarian access in Yemen or support the Houthi rebels; and mandatory sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
“There must be a transparent, credible investigation into Khashoggi’s murder,” New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in introducing the bill with two Democratic and three Republican colleagues.