Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recordings related to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, which Ankara has shared with Western allies, are “appalling”, and shocked a Saudi intelligence officer who listened to them, local media reported.
Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed on October 2 in Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in a hit that Erdogan says was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.
The Turkish leader, while returning from a weekend visit to France, told reporters on Tuesday that he discussed the Saudi journalist’s killing with the US, French and German leaders in Paris.
“We played the recordings regarding this murder to everyone who wanted them from us. Our intelligence organisation did not hide anything. We played them to all who wanted them including the Saudis, the USA, France, Canada, Germany, Britain,” he said.
“The recordings are really appalling. Indeed when the Saudi intelligence officer listened to the recordings he was so shocked he said: ‘This one must have taken heroin, only someone who takes heroin would do this’,” he added.
Khashoggi’s killing has caused global outrage but little concrete action has been taken by world powers against Saudi Arabia – the world’s largest oil exporter – which has sided with the US in its policy to contain Iranian influence across the Middle East.
Erdogan said it was clear the murder was planned and that the order came from the top level of Saudi authorities but that he could not think such a thing of King Salman, for whom he has “limitless respect”.
“The crown prince says ‘I will clarify the matter, I will do what is necessary’. We are waiting patiently,” Erdogan said, adding that the perpetrators of the killing were among 18 suspects arrested in Saudi Arabia.
“It must be revealed who gave them the order to murder.”
Saudi Arabia has changed its narrative about the murder several times amid international outcry and intensifying scepticism over its account.
After more than two weeks of denial, Riyadh conceded Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder, but that the murder was an unplanned “rogue operation”.