Politics

Khashoggi Cover-Up? Turks Find Newly Painted Surfaces in Saudi Consulate

Investigators want to know why Washington Post columnist entered the diplomatic facility in Istanbul and never came out

Image Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is telling reporters on Tuesday that his country’s investigators found freshly painted surfaces in the Saudi Arabian consulate where Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared.

Erdoğan (pictured above left) did not say it directly, but the implication appears to be that the surfaces may have been painted over in order to conceal evidence of Khashoggi’s murder in the Istanbul diplomatic facility.

Speaking in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Erdoğan said, “My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” according to Reuters.

Khashoggi is seen in videos entering the Saudi facility a month ago, but no record exists of his departing. Turkish officials have told Reuters they have audio recordings from inside the Saudi facility that suggest Khashoggi was tortured and then murdered.

It is not known why Turkey has not made its recordings public.

Related: U.S. Cannot ‘Walk Away’ from ‘Outrage’ on Khashoggi Murder, Rubio Says

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Unnamed U.S. intelligence sources told The Washington Post on Tuesday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured above right) “ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him.”

Khashoggi has long been a critic of the Saudi royal family, especially of the prince. He is the nephew of Adnan Khashoggi, the former billionaire Saudi businessman who once sold a super yacht to then-New York real estate developer Donald Trump.

There were also multiple media reports late Monday that the Saudi government was preparing to admit that Khashoggi had indeed been killed during interrogation in the Istanbul consulate, but that something “went wrong” and he died.

Those reports seem to be confirmed at least in part by The Post’s report on Tuesday that “the intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.”

“Hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops, and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution.”

“A former U.S. intelligence official,” continued the Post report, “who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a ‘rendition,’ in which someone is extralegally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.”

The Post also reported that “hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops, and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution.”

President Donald Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday to fly to Saudi Arabia and discuss the Khashoggi issue in an effort to determine what happened. Trump has promised “severe consequences” to Saudi Arabia if it is proven to be responsible for the journalist’s death.

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