WASHINGTON: Turkey has not shared with the US government or key European allies graphic audio or video evidence it allegedly collected on US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's visit to Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, seven US and European security officials told reporters.
Two weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance on Oct 2, the United States and allies have collected some intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the sources said.
The sources, who requested anonymity, spoke with reporters on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak published on Wednesday what it said were details from audio recordings purportedly documenting Khashoggi's torture and interrogation.
It reported that it had heard audio recordings of Khashoggi being tortured during an interrogation, having his fingers cut off and then being beheaded.
On the tape, Saudi forensics specialist Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy can be heard putting on headphones to listen to music and telling others to do the same while the body was dismembered, according to the report in Yeni Safak.
Turkish investigators also believe that Khashoggi’s body was taken to the consul general’s house, and subsequently disposed of.
The consul, Mohammed al-Otaibi, left Istanbul for Riyadh on a scheduled Saudia flight Tuesday afternoon, with Ankara insisting he had not been expelled but left of his own choice.
Yeni Safak' report said al-Otaibi can be heard on one tape saying during Khashoggi's torture: "Do this outside. You are going to get me in trouble."
The daily reported that in another tape, an unknown individual tells Otaibi: "If you want to live when you return to Saudi Arabia, be quiet!"
Reporters report on Wednesday cited a senior Turkish official confirming the details published by Yeni Safak. Two Turkish government officials contacted by reporters declined to confirm the report.
Turkish sources told reporters earlier this week that the authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and that they were sharing it with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The reluctance of the Turks to turn over hard evidence they have said they have documenting Khashoggi's fate has led US and European security officials to assess that the most brutal accounts of Khashoggi's demise are likely accurate, the sources said.
"WE'VE ASKED FOR IT": TRUMP
US President Donald Trump appeared to confirm the lack of evidence in US hands when he said on Wednesday that the United States had asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it may have related to Khashoggi.
"We have asked for it, if it exists ... I'm not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does," Trump said.
"I'll have a full report on that from Mike (Pompeo) when he comes back ... That's going to be the first question I ask," he said.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies and columnist for the Washington Post who was living in the United States, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2 to get marriage documents.
Pompeo, the US secretary of state, is due to return on Wednesday from a trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where he met with leaders to discuss reports that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Pompeo has said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete an investigation into the disappearance of the journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Asked aboard his airplane whether he had heard any audio of Khashoggi's capture, Pompeo declined to comment, but his spokeswoman later told reporters he had not.
The Saudis have strongly denied those allegations but US media outlets have reported that they will acknowledge he was killed in a botched interrogation.