Jamal Khashoggi’s last words were ‘I’m suffocating’: Report
The last words slain Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi uttered before his murder inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul early last month were “I’m suffocating” according to a senior Turkish journalist with knowledge of an unpublished recording of the incident.
On Sunday, Al Jazeera reported that the head of investigations at the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper, Nazif Karaman, revealed during an interview that Mr. Khashoggi said, “I’m suffocating... Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic.”
Over the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the first public acknowledgement that tapes of the slaying exist, announcing that officials from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Germany, France and Britain have all listened to audio recordings his government has of the incident that occurred on Oct. 2.
The existence of the recordings had been leaked to the media but never openly confirmed.
CIA Director Gina Haspel, who visited Turkey last month for information on the investigation, reportedly heard the audio recordings of the killing.
“We gave them the tapes,” Mr. Erdogan said on Saturday before departing for Paris to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
“We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them,” he added.
Turkey says Mr. Khashoggi, who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a contributor to The Washington Post, was strangled and dismembered at the consulate after he arrived to obtain papers to marry his Turkish fiancee.
Turkish officials contend it was part of a premeditated killing by a 15-member hit squad dispatched to Istanbul and are seeking the extradition of 18 suspects who have been detained in Saudi Arabia, so they can be put on trial in Turkey.
On Saturday, Mr. Erdogan again prodded Saudi Arabia to “act fairly” and disclose those responsible.
For weeks after Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabian officials insisted that he had walked out of the consulate, before changing their account to say he died in a brawl.
They have also characterized the killing as a rogue operation carried out by Saudi agents who exceeded their authority.
But last month, in an apparent shift to ease international outrage over the death, they acknowledged that Turkish evidence indicated that the killing was premeditated.
While Turkish police are ending the search for Mr. Khashoggi’s body, the criminal investigation is moving forward.
On Sunday, Turkish media reports again suggested that the journalist’s remains could have been chemically dissolved.
According to Mr. Karaman, the Saudi hit team covered the floor of the Istanbul consulate with plastic bags before dismembering Mr. Khashoggi’s body.
“They (Saudi officials) also listened to the conversations and they know,” Mr. Erdogan said. “There is no need to distort this. They know for certain who among the 15 is the killer or are the killers.”
Mr. Karaman said that Daily Sabah would soon publish photos of the tools the hit team used in addition to portions of the recordings that document Mr. Khashoggi’s final words.