Updated at 9:13 p.m. ET.
Newly released surveillance footage shows a man apparently wearing the same clothes Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was wearing the day he disappeared after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. A Turkish ruling party official called the footage evidence of a Saudi cover-up, while another official described the man seen in the video as a “body double.”
Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident and critic of Saudi policy, entered the consulate on Oct. 2. Last week, Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi had been killed and that it believed Khashoggi died in the consulate as a result of a fight.
That claim has been met with skepticism by many U.S. lawmakers and international leaders. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to address the Khashoggi situation in a statement on Tuesday.
Several news organizations, including the Washington Post, report that CIA Director Gina Haspel has gone to Turkey ahead of Erdogan’s statement. President Trump said earlier today that “top intelligence” officials were in Turkey, though he did not name them.
The CIA declined to comment.
During Haspel’s confirmation process the CIA said she speaks Turkish, though it did not identify the countries in which she had worked undercover during her long career.
The surveillance footage released Monday by CNN, which the broadcaster said was recorded by Turkish law enforcement, shows a man of similar age and build to Khashoggi. Recorded the same day Khashoggi disappeared into the consulate, it shows this second man leaving through the building’s back door and walking around the streets of Istanbul, including a visit to the famed Blue Mosque.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initially said that Khashoggi left the consulate alive that day.
The broadcaster quoted an unnamed senior Turkish official as saying: “You don’t need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation. … Our assessment has not changed since October 6. This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate.”
“The man in the video, identified by [a Turkish] official as Mustafa al-Madani, was allegedly part of what investigators have said was a hit squad, sent to kill the journalist at the Saudi consulate during a scheduled appointment to get papers for his upcoming wedding,” CNN reported.
On Monday, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, Omer Celik, echoed the sentiment that the footage is evidence of Saudi efforts to conceal the killing. “We are facing a situation that has been monstrously planned and later tried to be covered up. It is a complicated murder,” he told reporters, according to Reuters.
Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, also said Monday that Turkey would get to the bottom of what he called a “nefarious murder,” the wire service reported.
Turkey is conducting an investigation into Khashoggi’s death and, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, intends to search a Saudi diplomatic vehicle found in a parking lot in Istanbul.
In comments on Fox News, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also described the incident as a “terrible mistake” and said that Saudi Arabia doesn’t know where the body is.
Saudi Arabia has seen numerous high-profile guests pull out of its upcoming Future Investment Initiative summit, also known as Davos in the Desert, as the Khashoggi scandal has played out.
On Monday, Siemens President and CEO Joe Kaeser added his name to that growing list. He said in a statement on LinkedIn that he “received hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails and social media posts urging me not to attend.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is withdrawing from the summit. But he still plans to visit Saudi Arabia on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported, as part of a larger trip to the region. He stressed the importance of maintaining a close relationship with the country.
The Trump administration says it is continuing to weigh how to respond to the escalating diplomatic crisis with one of its closest allies. President Trump told reporters Monday that he has spoken to the crown prince and that the U.S. has “people over in Saudi Arabia now, we have top intelligence people in Turkey.”
White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday that the U.S. remains in a “fact-finding phase” and that officials are still “getting facts in from multiple places.” He said he advised the crown prince to “be transparent.” As NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe has reported, “Kushner … fostered a close relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a part of his bid to help broker a Middle East peace deal.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the crown prince and Kushner spoke about Khashoggi some eight days after his disappearance.
Citing people briefed on the call, the newspaper says the crown prince asked Kushner, “Why the outrage?” and noted that “government officials and business leaders had turned from lavishing praise on the prince to criticizing him.”
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