Oct 22, 2018

Body doubles and burning files: Latest Khashoggi case leaks

Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will release the findings from Turkey's investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's on Tuesday, pledging to go into "full detail" during a meeting of his ruling AK Party.

The big picture: There has been a steady drip of leaks from anonymous Turkish officials ever since news of Khashoggi's disappearance first broke, but the government has yet to release concrete evidence of a premeditated murder plot by the Saudi government. There has been speculation that rather than make such an accusation, Erdogan has been seeking more leverage from Riyadh and Washington. But he says he'll put all his cards on the table tomorrow.

Driving the news:

  • The Saudi foreign minister claimed on Fox News on Sunday that Khashoggi's death was the result of "a rogue operation" gone wrong, and that it was carried out without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
  • CNN obtained video surveillance footage Monday that the network said showed a man wearing what appeared to be Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard and glasses leaving through the back door of the Saudi consulate. A Turkish intelligence source told CNN the man was a member of the 15-person team involved in Khashoggi's alleged assassination, and was brought along as a body double.
  • Per Reuters, Saud al-Qahtani — a top aide to MBS who was fired for his involvement in the operation — gave orders during Khashoggi's killing via Skype. Two sources tell Reuters that the audio of the Skype call is now in Erdogan's possession.
  • Per Al Jazeera, Turkish police found an abandoned car registered to the Saudi consulate in an underground car park in Istanbul. Turkish state media published video footage allegedly showing an unidentified man transferring a package from the consulate vehicle into his own car.
  • A Turkish broadcaster has been airing footage that purportedly shows Saudi consulate staff burning files the day after Khashoggi's disappearance.

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