Nearly an year after his murder provoked international outrage, a Turkish newspaper has revealed gruesome details of the last moments of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of operatives of the Saudi Arabian government.
The Sabah, a pro-government newspaper, reported on Tuesday that it had obtained audio transcripts of the conversations between the 15-man “Saudi hit squad” and Khashoggi. Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, where he had arrived to complete formalities to marry his Turkish fiancée.
Sabah claimed the audio transcripts of the conversations were obtained by Turkey's National Intelligence Organization and had been used in the investigation into Khashoggi's killing.
Sabah reveals details of Khashoggi's arrival at the Saudi consulate. Sabah claims Abdulaziz Mutreb, the number two man of the hit squad, told Khashoggi that he would be taken back to Riyadh as “Interpol demanded you be returned”. Even as Khashoggi contended there were no lawsuits against him, the Saudi hit squad continued to interrogate the journalist. Mutreb asked Khashoggi to write a letter to his son, saying, “don't worry if you cannot reach me”.Khashoggi refused to do so.
After this, Dr. Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, the head of forensic evidence at the Saudi General Security Department, said they would put him to sleep. “After he was drugged, Khashoggi says 'do not keep my mouth closed' before losing his consciousness. 'I have asthma. Do not do it, you will suffocate me,'” Sabah reports, explaining these were Khashoggi's last words.
Sabah describes that after Khashoggi was drugged, sounds of “scuffling and struggling then dominate the recordings, with occasional questions and directives from the hit squad heard in between”. After Khashoggi dies, the audio records include the sound of an autopsy saw, presumably to dismember his body; the procedure last half-an-hour, Sabah notes.
The audio recordings also feature a conversation between Mutreb and Al-Tubaigy, who dismembered Khashoggi's body. Sabah reports Al-Tubaigy said, “I know how to cut very well. I have never worked on a warm body though, but I'll also manage that easily. I normally put on my earphones and listen to music when I cut cadavers.” Khashoggi's body has not been found yet.
Al-Tubaigy and Mutreb are among the five people who are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's murder. The murder of Khashoggi had severely strained Saudi Arabia's ties to Turkey, European powers and even the US, with many political leaders directly pointing fingers at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Sultan for orchestrating the killing.