ISTANBUL(TIP): A Turkish newspaper reported on Thursday, November 22, that CIA director Gina Haspel signaled to Turkish officials last month that the agency had a recording of a call in which Saudi Arabia’s crown prince gave instructions to “silence” Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Asked about the report, a Turkish official said he had no information about such a recording. Saudi Arabia has said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul six weeks ago.
“There is talk of another recording,” Hurriyet newspaper journalist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in a column, saying the purported call took place between Prince Mohammed and his brother, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington. “It is being said that CIA chief Gina Haspel indicated this during her visit to Turkey,”” he wrote, adding that they had discussed Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s de facto ruler. “It is being said the crown prince gave orders to ‘silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible’,” in a call which was monitored by the US agency, he said.
Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 in an operation that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has said was ordered by the highest level of Saudi leadership.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last week Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
CIA did not blame Saudi crown prince, says Trump
WASHINGTON(TIP): “They didn’t conclude,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday, November 22, when asked about the CIA’s evaluation by reporters at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, BBC reported.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said that the CIA did not blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was murdered on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Officials told U.S. media such an operation would have needed the prince’s approval.
“They didn’t conclude,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday when asked about the CIA’s evaluation by reporters at Mar—a—Lago in Florida, BBC reported.
“They have feelings certain ways. I have the report, they have not concluded, I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude the crown prince did it,” he said.
The President has repeatedly stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia to the U.S. following the killing.
Earlier this week, Mr. Trump released a statement suggesting that the crown prince “could very well” have known about the incident.
His statement said: “[It] could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
On November 17, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that Mr. Trump had confidence in the CIA following conversations with Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the Khashoggi murder.
Sources quoted in the U.S. media at the time stressed that there was no single piece of evidence linking the crown prince directly to the murder, but officials believed the killing would have required his endorsement.
Saudi Arabia called the claim false and insisted that the crown prince knew nothing about plans for the killing.
The Gulf kingdom’s public prosecutor says Khashoggi was killed as a result of a “rogue operation”.
However, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Thursday that Ms. Haspel told Turkish officials last month the CIA had a recording in which the crown prince gave instructions to “silence” the Saudi writer as soon as possible.
When asked about the claims by reporters, Mr. Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about it. You’ll have to ask them.”
The Saudi crown prince left on a visit to “brotherly Arab states” on Thursday, Saudi state media reported, beginning a regional tour with the United Arab Emirates.
It will be his first official trip abroad since Khashoggi was killed.
The crown prince is also expected to participate in a G20 meeting of world leaders in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of the month that will be attended by leaders from the US, Turkey and a number of European countries.
Meanwhile, France has announced that it is imposing sanctions on 18 Saudi nationals —— the same individuals targeted with sanctions by the U.S., UK and Germany — allegedly linked to the Khashoggi murder.
Their list of individuals does not include the crown prince, a spokesperson for the French ministry of foreign affairs said.