Saudi Arabia Makes Huge Concession in Khashoggi Death

Public prosecutor says his death was a planned operation, after CIA chief hears audio
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2018 6:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – Saudi Arabia's ever-changing explanation of Jamal Khashoggi's death just changed again in a huge way: The nation's public prosecutor said Thursday for the first time that Saudi agents killed the journalist as part of a planned mission, reports the Washington Post. But he apparently did not specify who ordered that mission. Saudi Arabia had previously blamed "rogue" agents, saying a fistfight between them and Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul escalated out of control. But the new statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry says it has reversed its view based on evidence from Turkish investigators. It didn't provide details, but Turkey says it has audio of the killing—audio that CIA chief Gina Haspel is believed to have heard during her trip to Turkey this week.

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Both the Washington Post and Reuters report that Haspel listened to the recording. It remains unclear how Turkish officials obtained the audio, but Turkish media reports have previously said it makes clear that the killing of Khashoggi was both deliberate and brutal. A source familiar with the audio tells the Post it is indeed "compelling." Haspel is back in the US and is expected to brief President Trump on Thursday, reports CNN. Trump made his strongest remarks yet against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, calling Khashoggi's killing the "worst cover-up ever." The revelation that Haspel listened to the audio is expected to prompt Congress to ask her to brief lawmakers as well. (Khashoggi had been a frequent critic of the Saudi crown prince, who was seen in a jarring photo with Khashoggi's son.)

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