New surveillance video taken by Turkish law enforcement purportedly shows a Saudi agent suspected in Jamal Khashoggi’s killing wearing the slain journalist’s clothes on the day investigators say he was murdered.
The video – obtained and broadcast by CNN Monday – appears to confirm speculation that the Saudi team allegedly responsible for his death had attempted to use a body double to cover up the crime.
Saudi Arabia said that Khashoggi, a writer and critic of the kingdom’s leadership, had died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul following an altercation on Oct. 2. Turkish officials dispute this and have leaked information suggesting that 15 Saudi agents murdered Khashoggi soon after he entered the diplomatic mission for an administrative errand.
Saudi officials have offered inconsistent narratives of how he was killed and have so far refused to answer questions about where Khashoggi’s remains are, prompting a global uproar over the Saudi writer’s death.
The footage Monday was likely to further challenge the Saudi government’s explanations of what transpired in the consulate and in the hours after Khashoggi’s murder.
In a series of clips from closed-circuit television cameras both outside the consulate, in Istanbul’s Levent district, and in the tourist-heavy Sultan Ahmet area, one of the Saudi suspects is seen wearing the gray pants and black jacket worn by Khashoggi when he entered the mission.
The suspect, Mustafa al-Madani, arrives at the consulate around 11 a.m. on Oct. 2, wearing a blue plaid shirt. He later leaves the consulate wearing Khashoggi’s clothes and is accompanied by another man carrying a white plastic bag.
The video then shows the two suspects taking a taxi cab to the Sultan Ahmet district, where they enter a bathroom. Madani then emerges wearing the same plaid shirt. The two men dispose of the plastic bag, which Turkish officials believe contained Khashoggi’s clothes, CNN reported. Later, the two are seen laughing as they approach an entrance to the Movenpick hotel.
The release of the video comes as Turkish prosecutors Monday were set to hear further testimony from at least five employees of the Saudi consulate, local media reported. Investigators were reported to have already interviewed 20 employees, including the consul general’s driver, according to Turkey’s private NTV news channel. It was unclear if any of the workers were direct witnesses to the incident.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that he would reveal details of the investigation on Tuesday, even as Saudi officials sought to head off growing criticism of the murder.
“The incident will be revealed entirely,” Erdogan said on Sunday, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.
The office of the Turkish presidency said early Monday that Erdogan and President Donald Trump had spoken by phone the night before and had agreed to “clear up the Jamal Khashoggi incident.”
There was no immediate comment from the White House, which has emphasized Saudi Arabia’s status as a key U.S. ally.
Still, the inquiry and the alleged circumstances of Khashoggi’s death have gained worldwide attention and threatened Saudi Arabia’s status as a regional power.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister denied in an interview with Fox News on Sunday that the nation’s powerful young crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.
“At moments like this it is the job of a friend to tell the truth; and the truth is that the killing of Khashoggi was a barbaric act to which we in Britain refuse to turn a blind eye,” Britain’s former foreign minister, Boris Johnson, said on Twitter Monday.
On Sunday, Britain, Germany and France issued a joint statement indicating that the Saudi explanation of Khashoggi’s killing did not go far enough.
“There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened on October 2nd – beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible,” the statement said. “We will ultimately make our judgment based on the credibility of the further explanation we receive about what happened and our confidence that such a shameful event cannot and will not ever be repeated.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Erin Cunningham