Dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi pleaded with four men to “release my arm” after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — chilling comments caught on tape in the final moments before he was murdered and dismembered, Turkish media reported.
Khashoggi, 59, was confronted by four men when he arrived October 2 at the consulate’s “A unit,” where the visa department is located.
“Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?” Turkish media quoted Khashoggi telling them, citing a seven-minute recording that captured the encounter, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
It came as US President Donald Trump remarkably released a statement saying the US would remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia while admitting that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could very well” have known in advance about the plan to kill Khashoggi.
“Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,” Mr Trump said. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The New York Post reports that the four men, said to be members of a Saudi “hit squad,” then removed the writer to another area of the consulate that contains administrative offices, where sounds of a quarrel, beating and torture are heard on another four-minute recording.
“Traitor! You will be brought to account,” a man identified as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, the leader of the team and an associate of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, tells Khashoggi.
In his writings for the Washington Post, Khashoggi was highly critical of the ruling royal family, including the prince.
For 11 minutes, sounds of beating and torture can be heard on the tape before it goes silent for an hour and 15 minutes.
Saudi officials can then be heard entering the unit and a voice breaks the silence.
“It is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago,” Mustafa al-Modani, who was there to act as Khashoggi’s body double, says on the tape.
He then complains to the team members that the writer’s shoes are too small for his feet and they tell him to wear his sneakers.
Al-Modani was captured on video cameras outside the consulate wearing Khashoggi’s clothes in an effort to make it appear that Khashoggi exited the building.
The reports said Khashoggi was dismembered in the consulate’s “C unit,” but no recordings from that section exist.
Saudi officials gave conflicting accounts of what happened to Khashoggi before finally acknowledging that he was killed by members of a team who were trying to return him to the kingdom.
They insisted that the crown prince was not aware of the operation.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission
Originally published as ‘America First!’ Trump’s shock move