Khashoggi ‘body double’ footage emerges from outside Saudi consulate

The circumstances around Jamal Khashoggi’s death are still unconfirmed (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

A man appearing to wear Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes can be seen on surveillance video leaving the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after the journalist was killed there, according to reports.

The footage appeared after it emerged a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage made four calls to his office from the consulate the day Mr Khashoggi disappeared, a Turkish newspaper reported.

The claim comes a day before Prince Mohammed’s high-profile investment summit begins in Riyadh.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to detail Mr Khashoggi’s killing “in all its nakedness”, raising international pressure on Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom’s claim on Saturday that Mr Khashoggi died in a “fistfight” was met with international scepticism and allegations of a cover-up to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.

Turkish media reports and officials maintain that a 15-member Saudi team flew to Istanbul on October 2, knowing Mr Khashoggi would arrive to pick up a document he needed in order to get married.

Once he was inside the diplomatic mission, reports also claimed the Saudis accosted 59-year-old Mr Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, then killed and dismembered him.

CNN aired surveillance footage showing a man in Mr Khashoggi’s dress shirt, suit jacket and trousers. It cited a Turkish official as describing the man as a “body double” and a member of the Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AP)

The man is seen in the footage walking out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice, then taking a taxi to Istanbul’s famed Sultan Ahmed Mosque, where he went into a public toilet, changed back out of the clothes and left.

The state-run broadcaster TRT also reported that a man who entered the consulate building was seen leaving the building in Mr Khashoggi’s clothes.

In the days after Mr Khashoggi vanished, Saudi officials initially said that he had left the consulate.

“After Turkish authorities and the media were allowed to inspect the consulate building in its entirety, the accusations changed to the outrageous claim that he was murdered, in the consulate, during business hours, and with dozens of staff and visitors in the building,” Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of the crown prince, wrote on October 8.

Mr Edrogan has promised to reveal more details over the killing of the journalist (AP)

“I don’t know who is behind these claims, or their intentions, nor do I care frankly.”

The report in Yeni Safak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate.

The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed’s office. It said another call went to the United States.

Pro-government newspapers have been leaking information about Mr Khashoggi’s killing, apparently with the help of Turkish security forces.

Yeni Safak reported last week that Saudi officials cut off Mr Khashoggi’s fingers and then decapitated him at the consulate while his fiancee waited outside.

Saudi Arabia so far has not acknowledged or explained Mr Mutreb’s presence in Istanbul. It has also not explained how a forensics and autopsy expert was also on hand ahead of Mr Khashoggi’s arrival at the consulate.

Last week, a leaked photograph apparently taken from surveillance footage showed Mr Mutreb at the consulate, just before Mr Khashoggi arrived there.

Mr Mutreb’s name also matches that of a first secretary who once served as a diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in London, according to a 2007 list compiled by the British Foreign Office.

Meanwhile, Saudi state media reported that both Prince Mohammed and King Salman made calls to Mr Khashoggi’s son, Salah, early on Monday morning.

Security personnel guard Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul (AP)

Statements from the agency said both the king and the crown prince expressed their condolences over Mr Khashoggi’s death.

A Saudi friend of Mr Khashoggi said that Salah Khashoggi had been under a travel ban and barred from leaving the kingdom since last year as a result of his father’s criticism of the government.

Five Turkish employees of the consulate also gave testimonies to prosecutors, Turkish media reported.

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor had summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give evidence.

Some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time Mr Khashoggi disappeared.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News that Mr Khashoggi’s killing was “a rogue operation” and that “we don’t know where the body is”.

He added: “The individuals who did this, did this outside the scope of their authority.

A dozen of Indonesian journalists hold posters with photos of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi during a protest outside Saudi Arabian Embassy in Jakarta (AP)

“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable to the government.”

However, leading Republicans and Democrats in US congress are saying Saudi Arabia should face punishment over Mr Khashoggi’s killing. President Donald Trump also had talked about possible punishment but said he did not want to halt proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia because, he maintained, it would harm US manufacturers.

The UK, Germany and France issued a joint statement condemning the killing of Mr Khashoggi, saying there is an “urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened”.

The governments said attacks on journalists are unacceptable and “of utmost concern to our three nations”.

They said the “hypotheses” proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said she supports a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

German economy minister Peter Altmaier underlined that point on Monday, calling for a joint European position as Germany “won’t at this point approve any further arms exports because we want to know what happened”.

- Press Association

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