Newly leaked surveillance footage has emerged that appears to show a man leaving the Saudi consulate in Istanbul wearing the clothes of the slain Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
The video — obtained and broadcast by CNN on Monday — appears to confirm reports that Saudi agents who allegedly killed Khashoggi used a body double as part of an attempted cover-up.
Turkish investigators allege that 15 Saudi agents murdered Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist who was living in exile in the United States, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul soon after he entered it on October 2.
After weeks of denials, the Saudis late on Friday, admitted for the first time that 59-year-old Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been killed after entering the consulate to organise paperwork for his marriage. His fiancée had been waiting for him at the front of the building.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey. The Saudis had initially said he had left the Saudi consulate on 2 October – but on Friday admitted for the first time he was dead, saying he had been killed in a fight.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said details of the Washington Post journalist’s killing “will be revealed in all its nakedness” in parliament on Tuesday, the same day a glitzy investment forum in Riyadh spearheaded by the crown prince is to take place.
The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK party on Monday said it was Turkey’s responsibility to uncover the truth, telling reporters it was a “complicated” murder that had been “monstrously planned”.
Saudi Arabia has never produced any CCTV footage of the body double to support its initial claim Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, and either Saudi officials realised the story would not be credible or had been waiting for Turkish officials to be tricked by the ruse.
The footage was handed to CNN news channel by Turkish authorities.
Saudi Arabia claimed Saturday that accidentally died in the consulate following an altercation with a team that was sent to negotiate his return. But Saudi officials have so far refused to answer questions about what happened to Khashoggi’s remains, fueling already widespread condemnation of the killing.
The footage aired Monday — which appeared to show Mustafa al-Madani, 57, and an accomplice — further challenges the Saudi government’s explanations of what transpired in the consulate and in the hours after Khashoggi’s death.
A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party said Monday that Khashoggi’s murder was “complicated” and “monstrously planned.”
In a series of clips from closed-circuit television cameras, Madani is shown wearing the gray pants, light shirt and black jacket worn by Khashoggi before he entered the mission. He also appears to be wearing spectacles and a fake beard as part of the disguise.
According to records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, Madani, who is suspected of working for Saudi intelligence, travelled to New York shortly before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was scheduled to arrive there as part of his U.S. tour this spring. Four users of a caller-ID app popular in the Arab world list Madani as working in intelligence, and another describes him as working in the headquarters of the kingdom’s primary intelligence agency.
In the video, Madani arrives at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul’s Levent district at around 11 a.m., wearing black and white sneakers and a blue plaid shirt, roughly two hours before the arrival of Khashoggi. Khashoggi went to the consulate that day on an administrative errand, after consular employees told him that paperwork he needed for his marriage would be ready on Oct. 2, according to his family and friends.
Madani is shown departing the consulate about four hours later wearing Khashoggi’s clothing — except for his shoes. He is accompanied by another man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and carrying a white plastic bag. The two suspects take a taxi to Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmet district, where they enter a bathroom, the images show. Madani emerges from the bathroom wearing the same plaid shirt he wore when he arrived at the consulate, and the two men dispose of the plastic bag, which Turkish officials believe contained Khashoggi’s clothes, CNN reported.
Later, the two are seen laughing as they approach an entrance to the Movenpick hotel.
The video was released as Turkish prosecutors prepared Monday to hear further testimony from at least five employees of the Saudi Consulate, local media reported. Investigators were reported to have already interviewed 20 employees, including the consul general’s driver, according to Turkey’s private NTV news channel. It was unclear whether any of the workers were direct witnesses to the incident.
Turkey’s state broadcaster, TRT, also reported that authorities discovered an abandoned vehicle they believe belonged to the Saudi Consulate. It was located in a private parking lot about 10 miles from the consulate grounds.
Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that he would reveal details of the investigation on Tuesday, even as Saudi officials sought to head off growing criticism of the murder.
“The incident will be revealed entirely,” Erdogan said, according to the semi-official Anadolu news agency.
The office of the Turkish presidency said early Monday that Erdogan and President Trump spoke by phone the night before and agreed to “clear up the Jamal Khashoggi incident.”
A White House official confirmed that the call took place. President Trump and his administration have emphasized Saudi Arabia’s status as a key U.S. ally.