Saudi intelligence shocked after listening to Khashoggi tape: Erdogan

Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the content of an audio recording of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the country shared with its Western allies, as a “calamity” and said it shocked a Saudi Arabian intelligence officer who listened to it, the media reported on Tuesday.

Calling on Riyadh to take concrete action against the perpetrators of the murder, Erdogan said: “All those who asked have listened to the audio recording of this murder. Our intelligence organization did not conceal anything. Besides Saudi Arabia, the US, France, Canada, Germany and the UK listened to this recording.

“The (content of the) tape is a real calamity. Even, the intelligence officer of the Saudis was shocked when he listened to the recording, as he said ‘this guy (perpetrator) is perhaps using heroin, only a man on heroin can do such a thing’,” Erdogan told the media on his return from Paris where he attended the centenary of the Armistice Day, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a supporter-turned-critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 after he went there to get documents for his forthcoming marriage.

Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor who visited Istanbul to discuss the killing with his Turkish counterpart seemed to be delaying his job even though there was sufficient evidence about the killing of Khashoggi, Erdogan said.

“The Crown Prince says ‘I will shed light on this incident and will do whatever is necessary.’ He told my special representative. We are waiting patiently.”

The Turkish leader reiterated that the perpetrators of the killing were among 18 Saudi high-ranking officials who were specifically sent to Istanbul before Khashoggi’s visit to the consulate.

Speaking about his meetings with world leaders in Paris, including US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Erdogan said they were making assessments on the audio recording.

Erdogan said he got the impression that Trump, Macron and Merkel were all very disturbed by the murder.

“I think they will place this incident in a different position as a result of information provided by their intelligence… The US Congress demanded a briefing from the CIA. I think the perspectives will change after this briefing.”

Khashoggi’s body is yet to be found. It has been reported that he was strangled, dismembered and his body dissolved in chemicals.

After a weeks-long denial, Saudi Arabia admitted on October 25 that the journalist fell victim to a premeditated killing in the consulate and arrested 18 people. However, it denies the ruling royal family’s involvement in the killing.