President Donald Trump defended his decision not to punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or cut arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. insisting it would be “foolish” to cut ties. (Nov. 20)
A Turkish newspaper claimed Thursday that the Central Intelligence Agency has heard a “smoking gun phone call” of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with an alleged instruction to “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible.”
The allegation was published in Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News, a well-established newspaper. The claim could not be independently verified by USA TODAY. The CIA could not be reached for comment. It rarely reacts to reports about its activities.
“The crown prince gave an instruction to silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible and this instruction was captured during (a) CIA wiretapping,” the paper claimed.
CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey last month as part of the investigation into the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Haspel has briefed President Donald Trump about her visit.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied its leadership had any knowledge of a plot to kill Khashoggi despite claims by Turkey’s government that it has audio recordings indicating the contrary. Trump has cast aside calls from U.S. lawmakers and international allies to punish the Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi’s slaying. Trump said Tuesday the benefits of good business relations with Saudi Arabia outweigh the possibility that the crown prince ordered the killing. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident at the time of his death.
According to Hürriyet Daily News, Haspel “signaled” during her trip to Ankara the existence of a wiretapped phone call between the crown prince and his brother Khaled bin Salman that captured the order. Khaled bin Salman is Saudi Arabia’s U.S. ambassador. Hürriyet Daily News did not identify the source of its claim.
The Washington Post previously reported that the CIA concluded the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination in Istanbul.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/11/22/cia-saudi-crown-prince-jamal-khashoggi-killing-report/2085273002/