A Turkish newspaper reported on Thursday CIA director Gina Haspel signaled to Turkish officials last month that the agency had a recording of a call in which Saudi Arabia’s crown prince gave instructions to “silence” Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Asked about the report, a Turkish official told Reuters he had no information about such a recording. Saudi Arabia has said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul six weeks ago.
The CIA declined to comment when asked about the report.
“There is talk of another recording,” Hurriyet newspaper journalist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in a column, saying the purported call took place between Prince Mohammed and his brother, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington.
“It is being said that CIA chief Gina Haspel indicated this during her visit to Turkey,” he wrote, adding that they had discussed Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
“It is being said the crown prince gave orders to ‘silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible’,” in a call which was monitored by the U.S. agency, he said.
Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 in an operation that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has said was ordered by the highest level of Saudi leadership.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last week Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Reporting by Dominic Evans, Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by David Dolan, William Maclean