An audio recording has emerged of the alleged torture and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Sky sources.
Sky special correspondent Alex Crawford says she was told by a “very well placed” source that a conversation between Saudi consul general Mohammed al-Otaibi and Mr Khashoggi can be heard on the recording, after which there was “a beating”.
The source said the recording later reveals the journalist was “drugged” and “killed”, before a Saudi forensics expert told others to put in headphones and listen to music while he took seven minutes to dismember the body.
Mr Khashoggi, a US resident and critic of the Saudi regime, has been missing since 2 October when he visited the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to obtain documents.
On Wednesday, Turkish police and forensics officers entered the Saudi consul’s official residence after protracted negotiations with Riyadh over the terms of a search.
Mr Mohammed al-Otaibi reportedly left Turkey on Tuesday after it was announced the property would be searched in
connection with the journalist’s disappearance.
Turkish police had earlier spent more than eight hours searching the consulate building, taking away soil and DNA samples for further examination.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously suggested parts of the consulate had been repainted since Mr Khashoggi went missing.
Turkish media reported that a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” confronted the Washington Post writer at the embassy and his screams could be heard throughout the building.
Yeni Safak, a strongly pro-government newspaper, said Mr al-Otaibi could be heard telling those allegedly torturing Mr Khashoggi: “Do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble.”
The newspaper said one of the Saudi “torturers” replied: “Shut up if you want to live when you return to (Saudi) Arabia.”
The recording also reveals Mr Khashoggi had fingers cut off and was told to “shut up” or face being killed, Yeni Safak reported.
A steady drip of leaks from police, diplomatic and intelligence sources have claimed that the 60-year-old was murdered for his opposition to the Saudi regime, allegations the Gulf kingdom has called “baseless”.
Other reports suggest Saudi Arabia may admit he died during a botched interrogation.
Another Turkish newspaper, Sabah, has published the names and CCTV pictures of the 15 men who allegedly made a one-day trip to Istanbul on the day Jamal Khashoggi disappeared.
One of the men appears to be bodyguard Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a regular member of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage.
Another pictured is reportedly forensic expert Dr Salah Muhammed al Tubaigy.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday.
Before leaving for Turkey, Mr Pompeo told reporters that they “made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official.”
Police searched the Saudi consulate and said they found evidence Mr Khashoggi died there, according to a senior Turkish official.
Overnight, Donald Trump compared the growing global condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s alleged part in Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance to his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh being accused of sexual assault.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” he said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that,” he said.
Mr Trump’s remarks are his most robust defence yet of the Saudis, a US ally he has made central to his Middle East agenda.
But they put the president at odds with other key allies, including the UK, Germany, France and fellow Republicans.
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde said she is deferring a scheduled trip to the Middle East in which she was meant to be attending an important investment conference in Riyadh.
(c) Sky News 2018: Jamal Khashoggi: Recording emerges of journalist ‘torture and murder’