ANKARA, Turkey — The Washington Post says the Turkish government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video proof that missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.
In a report Friday, the newspaper, for which Khashoggi is a columnist, cited anonymous officials saying the recordings show a Saudi security team detaining the writer when he went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding.
The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm the report, and Turkish officials would not comment.
Saudi Arabia has called the allegation it abducted or harmed Khashoggi “baseless.”
However, it has offered no evidence to support its claim he left the consulate and vanished even though his fiance was waiting outside.
On Friday, a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey as part of an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.Anadolu Agency said Friday that the delegation would hold talks with Turkish officials over the weekend. It did not provide further details.
On Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey and Saudi Arabia would form a “joint working group” to look into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
In the United States, President Donald Trump said he has talked to officials at the highest level of the kingdom and is “demanding everything” to explain how Khashoggi, an activist who had been critical of Saudi leaders, vanished.
Trump has backed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious campaign to modernize the conservative kingdom and its economy. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who exchanges phone and text messages with the young crown prince, was instrumental in last year’s deal to sell $110 billion in U.S. weapons to the kingdom.
But even before Khashoggi vanished, concerns were mounting in Congress over Saudi Arabia’s policies and the crown prince’s aggressive steps to silence his critics. And now there are calls on Capitol Hill for the U.S. to halt arms sales to the kingdom, and Khashoggi’s disappearance could galvanize more opposition from lawmakers and pressure Trump to rethink his relations with Saudi Arabia.
Trump on Thursday pronounced U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia “excellent” and said he doesn’t want to scuttle arms deals with Riyadh because it means tens of millions of dollars pouring into the U.S. economy. He said the kingdom would simply buy the weapons from Russia or China instead.
“If it turns out to be as bad as it might be, there are certainly other ways of handling this situation,” he said without elaborating.
Much of how the U.S. responds will depend on whether evidence surfaces that proves Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.