US president Donald Trump has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it had related to the disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi “if it exists”.
Khashoggi was last seen entering Istanbul’s Saudi consulate on October 2. Turkish officials said they believed Khashoggi was murdered in the building. Saudi Arabia has denied killing the Washington Post journalist.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he had requested evidence of the murder from Turkey. “We have asked for it, if it exists,” said Trump. “I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does.”
Trump denied giving cover for Saudi Arabia, which is one of Washington’s closest allies. Only a day before, Trump compared the murder allegations to sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”
Turkish government leaks and press reports have raised claims that Khashoggi was tortured and killed in the consulate building, where he expected to arrange paperwork for his marriage. Sources told CNN that the death was a result of an interrogation that went wrong, with the original plan being to abduct Khashoggi from Turkey.
BREAKING — 2 sources tell @clarissaward and @TimListerCNN that the Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 15, 2018
Reports also said that 15 Saudi Arabians arrived at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on diplomatic passports only a few hours before Khashoggi went to the consulate. These 15 people left the same night.
In response to the news, more figures from high-profile organisations have withdrawn from an investment conference in Riyadh, including the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde, Google’s Diane Greene, CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Credit Suisse’s Tidjane Thiam, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi.