America’s Central Intelligence Agency is in possession of a recording of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman giving an order to “silence Jamal Kashoggi as soon as possible,” a Turkish newspaper reported Thursday.
Turkish news site Hurriyet Daily News quoted columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, who said that during a visit to Ankara last month, CIA director Gina Haspel had “signaled” the existence of the recording.
Selvi claimed two Saudi officials are heard in the tape discussing the “discomfort” created by Khashoggi’s public criticism of the kingdom.
“It is said that the crown prince gave an instruction to silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible and this instruction was captured during the CIA wiretapping. The subsequent murder is the ultimate confirmation of this instruction,” Selvi wrote.
A Turkish official told Reuters he had no knowledge of the recording.
Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get marriage documents on October 2, where he was killed and reportedly dismembered. His body has not yet been found.
After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the crown prince.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday ignored criticism that he gave Saudi Arabia a free pass on Khashoggi’s murder, instead praising the Islamic kingdom for keeping oil prices low.
But members of Congress are pushing Trump for a tougher response to the killing. The administration this past week penalized 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but American lawmakers have called on the administration to curtail arms sales to Saudi Arabia or take other harsher punitive measures.