Turkey denies giving 'any kind of audio tape' on Khashoggi to US

#Khashoggi

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu denied a report on ABC that his government had shared audio of Saudi journalist's death with US

Protesters hold portraits of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul (AFP)
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Friday 19 October 2018 19:45 UTC
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Turkey on Friday denied giving "any kind of audio tape" from the investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or any American official.

"It is out of the question for Turkey to give any kind of audio tape to Pompeo or any other US official," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, two days after meeting with the US top diplomat for talks in Ankara.

Turkey's pro-government press has reported that Turkey has an audio recording that proves the alleged murder of Khashoggi at the consulate and that he was tortured before his death.

The existence of the tape has never been confirmed on the record by Turkish officials.

According to an ABC news report late Thursday, Turkey shared a recording of Khashoggi's death with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he met with officials in Istanbul.

However, US President Donald Trump denied the report on Friday, saying Pompeo was never shown a transcript or video of what he described as "the Saudi Consulate event".

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was never given or shown a Transcript or Video of the Saudi Consulate event. FAKE NEWS!" Trump tweeted.

The State Department also denied that Pompeo had listened to the audio tape.

"The secretary addressed this yesterday. He has not heard a tape," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

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Pompeo also denied the report during a trip to Latin America.

"I've seen no tape. I’ve seen no...or I've heard no tape. I’ve seen no transcript," he told reporters.

Cavusoglu, like other Turkish officials, stopped short of revealing details of the investigation but vowed they would be shared in due course.

"We will share the results to emerge with the entire world. It is out of the question for us to share this or that information with any country," he said, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Earlier on Thursday, Pompeo said he told Trump that the US should give the Saudis "a few more days" to complete their investigation into Khashoggi's case "so we can get a complete understanding" of the facts.

After that, "we can make a decision about how the United States should respond to the issues surrounding Mr Khashoggi," he told reporters.

'Guilty until proven innocent'

Saudi royal family sources told Reuters news agency on Friday that Saudi King Salman has intervened to defuse the Khashoggi crisis and dispatched his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, to Turkey on 11 October to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Salman's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has been struggling to address the crisis, sources said, adding that the king was unaware of the extent of the crisis until his son asked him to intervene.

“Even if MBS wanted to keep this away from the king, he couldn’t because the story about Khashoggi’s disappearance was on all the Arab and Saudi TV channels watched by the king,” one source close to the royal court told Reuters.

Earlier this week, Pompeo was dispatched to Riyadh, where he met King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh to discuss the Khashoggi case.

Pompeo said on Tuesday that Saudi leaders strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their Istanbul consulate and promised a serious and credible investigation.

"During each of today's meetings, the Saudi leadership strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their consulate in Istanbul," Pompeo said in a statement from Saudi Arabia.

"My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials."

Trump had previously dismissed claims of Saudi Arabia's involvement and compared the situation to sexual assault allegations against now-US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent,” he told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

UK response 'will be considered'

On Friday, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt described the Khashoggi case as "a very, very serious matter". 

In statements to BBC Radio, he said: "Part of our reaction will depend on the Saudi reaction, and whether we sense that they are taking it as seriously as we are taking it.

"Our relationship with Saudi is a strategic relationship as well. Our response will be considered... (but) in the end, if these stories are true, we have to be absolutely clear, it would not be consistent with our values."

Khashoggi, a Saudi insider-turned-critic, was last seen on 2 October entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say they believe he was killed inside the building.

Saudi officials have vehemently denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving. 

However, they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consulate were not recording at the time.