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Erdogan says Khashoggi recordings ‘appalling’, shocked Saudi intelligence

ISTANBUL (Web Desk) President Tayyip Erdo­gan said recordings related to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, which Turkey has shared with Western allies, are “appalling” and shocked a Saudi intelligence officer who listened to them, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

Khashoggi, a critic of de facto Saudi ruler Crown Pri­n­ce Mohammed bin Salm­­an, was killed in Saudi Ara­bia’s Istanbul consulate on Oct 2 in a hit which Erdogan says was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Erdogan told reporters on his plane returning from a weekend visit to Fra­n­­ce that he discussed the Saudi journalist’s killing with the US, French and German leaders at dinner in Paris.

“We played the recordings regarding this murder to everyone who wanted them from us. Our intelligence organisation did not hide anything. We played them to all who wanted them including the Saudis, the USA, France, Canada, Germany, Britain,” he said.

“The recordings are real­­ly appalling. Indeed, when the Saudi intelligence officer listened to the recordings he was so shocked he said: ‘This one must have taken heroin, only someone who takes heroin would do this’,” he added.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said he did not think that people who heard the recordings concluded that the crown prince was linked to the killing. “And certainly that is not the position of the Saudi government,” he said in Singapore.

Asked again if the audio tape provi­ded by Turkey did not link Prince Mo­­hammed to the killing in any way, Bol­ton said: “I haven’t listened to the tape myself but in the assessment of those who have listened to it, that is right.”

Electric shock devices

Turkey’s pro-government newspaper Sabah reported on Tuesday that the luggage of the Saudi team that was sent to Istanbul at the time of Kha­sho­ggi’s killing contained syringes, large scissors, staple guns, walkie-tal­kies, electric shock devices and a signal jammer.

It published photos of X-rays of bags taken as the Saudis passed through security checks at the airport when they left. Reuters could not immediately verify the Sabah report.

Erdogan has not given details of the contents of the tapes but two sources with knowledge of the issue have said that Turkey has several audio recordings. They include the killing itself and conversations before the operation which Turkey subsequently uncovered, the sources said. These had led Ankara to conclude from an early stage that the killing was premeditated, despite Saudi Arabia’s initial denials of any knowledge or involvement.

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