Security personnel guard Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

In Khashoggi case: Saudi calls, ‘body double’ after killing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.

A man appearing to wear Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes left the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following his killing there, according to a surveillance video, while a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office around the same time, reports said Monday.

The reports by CNN and a pro-government Turkish newspaper came just a day before Prince Mohammed’s high-profile investment summit is to begin in Riyadh and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that details of Khashoggi’s killing “will be revealed in all its nakedness.”

That yet again adds to the pressure Saudi Arabia faces over the slaying of the Washington Post columnist. The kingdom’s claim on Saturday that Khashoggi died in a “fistfight” met international skepticism and allegations of a coverup to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.

Turkish media reports and officials maintain that a 15-member Saudi team flew to Istanbul on Oct. 2, knowing Khashoggi would arrive for a document he needed to get married. Once he was inside the diplomatic mission, the Saudis accosted Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, killed and dismembered the 59-year-old writer.

CNN aired surveillance footage on Monday showing the man in Khashoggi’s dress shirt, suit jacket and pants. It cited a Turkish official as describing the man as a “body double” and a member of the Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer. The man is seen in the footage walking out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice, then taking a taxi to Istanbul’s famed Sultan Ahmed Mosque, where he went into a public bathroom, changed back out of the clothes and left.

The state-run broadcaster TRT later also reported that a man who entered the consulate building was seen leaving the building in Khashoggi’s clothes.

Related: Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Related: Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

In the days after Khashoggi vanished, Saudi officials initially said that he had left the consulate, implying premeditation on the part of the Saudi team.

“After Turkish authorities and the media were allowed to inspect the consulate building in its entirety, the accusations changed to the outrageous claim that he was murdered, in the consulate, during business hours, and with dozens of staff and visitors in the building,” Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of the crown prince, wrote on Oct. 8. “I don’t know who is behind these claims, or their intentions, nor do I care frankly.”

A separate report by newspaper Yeni Safak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate. The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed’s office. It said another call went to the United States.

Yeni Safak cited no source for the information. However, pro-government newspapers have been leaking information about Khashoggi’s killing, apparently with the help of Turkish security forces. Yeni Safak reported last week that Saudi officials cut off Khashoggi’s fingers and then decapitated him at the consulate as his fiancée waited outside.

Officials in Saudi Arabia have not answered repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press in recent days, including on Monday. Saudi Arabia so far has not acknowledged or explained Mutreb’s presence in Istanbul — nor that a forensics and autopsy expert was also on hand for Khashoggi’s arrival at the consulate.

Last week, a leaked photograph apparently taken from surveillance footage showed Mutreb at the consulate, just ahead of Khashoggi’s arrival. Mutreb’s name also matches that of a first secretary who once served as a diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in London, according to a 2007 list compiled by the British Foreign Office.

Meanwhile, Saudi state media reported that both Prince Mohammed and King Salman made calls to Khashoggi’s son, Salah, early on Monday morning. Statements from the agency said both the king and the crown prince expressed their condolences for Khashoggi’s death.

A Saudi friend of Khashoggi who was in frequent touch with him before his death told the AP that Salah Khashoggi had been under a travel ban and barred from leaving the kingdom since last year as a result of his father’s criticism of the government. The friend spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion. The Saudi statements did not acknowledge the ban.

Five Turkish employees of the consulate also gave testimonies to prosecutors on Monday, Turkish media reported. Istanbul’s chief prosecutor had summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi Consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony. Some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday told Fox News that Khashoggi’s killing was “a rogue operation” and that “we don’t know where the body is.”

“The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority,” he said. “There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable to the government.”

However, leading Republicans and Democrats in Congress are saying Saudi Arabia should face punishment over Khashoggi’s killing. President Donald Trump also had talked about possible punishment but said he didn’t want to halt proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia because, he maintained, it would harm U.S. manufacturers.

Britain, Germany and France issued a joint statement condemning the killing of Khashoggi, saying there is an “urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened.”

In a statement Sunday, the governments said attacks on journalists are unacceptable and “of utmost concern to our three nations.” They said the “hypotheses” proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday that she supports a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier underlined that point Monday, calling for a joint European position as Germany “won’t at this point approve any further arms exports because we want to know what happened.”

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

Suzan Fraser And Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Strong support for Pitt Meadows transportation projects

Overpass/underpass projects get majority support

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead in Maple Ridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Ridge Meadows Hospital parking is still pay, but streets free

Surrey has removed meters on streets, asking Fraser Health for free parking at the hospital

Letter: ‘Wait times solution not what you think’

Canada’s health care policies haven’t changed since 1984.

OUTLOOK: Downtown Maple Ridge towers on tap

Changing Maple Ridge’s skyline.

UPDATE: IHIT confirms identity of Hells Angels homicide victim

Chad John Wilson was one of four men arrested in Spain in 2013 on allegations of smuggling cocaine.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry, ride-hailing group says

Ridesharing Now for BC says it had hoped the bill would be more customer-driven like in other cities

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Art Studio Tour call for artists

Deadline for applications is Dec. 1

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Most Read