Saudi journalist's Apple watch recorded his own torture and killing: Report

#Khashoggi

Khashoggi's killing recorded in watch's memory which was synced with his iPhone he had left with fiancee, Turkey's Sabah newspaper says

Turkish officials say Jamal Khashoggi was seen wearing a black Apple watch when he entered the consulate (AFP)
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Saturday 13 October 2018 15:21 UTC
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Turkey's investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has revealed recordings made on his Apple Watch purportedly showing his torture and killing, a Turkish newspaper has said.

The report on Saturday in the pro-government Sabah daily, which could not immediately be verified, emerged after a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey for a joint investigation into his disappearance.

"The moments when Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and murdered were recorded in the Apple watch's memory," the paper said, adding that the watch had synced with his iPhone, which his fiancee was carrying outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, 60, has been missing since 2 October when he entered the consulate to obtain paperwork so he could remarry, and has not been seen since.

The moments when Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and murdered were recorded in the Apple Watch's memory

- Turkey's Sabah newspaper

Two senior Turkish officials previously told the Reuters news agency that Khashoggi had been wearing a black Apple watch when he entered the consulate and that it was connected to a mobile phone he left outside.

However, it was not clear whether data from Khashoggi’s watch could have been transmitted to his phone outside, or how investigators could have retrieved it without obtaining the watch themselves.

Sabah, which cited "reliable sources in a special intelligence department" for its report, said Khashoggi was believed to have turned on the recording feature on the phone before entering the consulate.

The paper said Saudi intelligence agents had realised after he died that the phone was recording and they used his finger print to unlock it, deleting some files, but not all of them.

The recordings were subsequently found on his phone, it said.

Sources close to the investigation have told Middle East Eye that Khashoggi was dragged from the consul general's office inside the consulate before he was brutally murdered by two men who cut up his body.

Turkish officials said they knew when and where in the building the veteran Saudi journalist was killed and are considering whether to dig up the consul-general's garden to see whether his remains are buried there.

Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving.

However they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consolate were not recording at the time.

Saudi Arabia's interior minister rejected early on Saturday claims there were orders to kill Khashoggi, describing them as "baseless allegations and lies".

Prince Abdel Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef added that his country was "in compliance with international laws and conventions," the official Saudi Press Agency reported him saying.

In excerpts from an interview with the US broadcaster CBS due to be aired on Sunday, US President Donald Trump warned of "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if the US found that Saudi agents had killed Khashoggi, calling his suspected murder "really terrible and disgusting".

Speaking to reporters in Ohio on Friday, Trump had said he had not yet spoken to Saudi Arabia's King Salman about Khashoggi's disappearance but would be calling him "pretty soon".

UN chief calls for 'truth'

On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded "the truth" over Khashoggi's disappearance and said he was concerned such events would happen more often and become a "new normal".

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We need to have a strong request for the truth to be clear.

"We need to know exactly what has happened, and we need to know exactly who is responsible and, of course, when we see the multiplication of this kind of situation I think we need to find ways in which accountability is also demanded."

Meanwhile, several members of the UK parliament have called on British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to open an investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

In a letter dated 11 October and obtained by MEE, the MPs write that Khashoggi's case has "serious implications for the future of Saudi Arabia and her relations with liberal democracies worldwide".

"The UK must call for a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, and stand ready to support all authorities in their enquiries," it states.

MP Mark Menzies, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Saudi Arabia, is among 13 MPs who signed the letter.

On Tuesday, Hunt tweeted that he had met with Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK and said the government "will treat the incident seriously" if the reports of his death prove accurate.

A delegation of high-level Saudi officials arrived in Ankara on Friday morning after the Turkish and Saudi governments reached an agreement to form a joint working team to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance.

Sources told Middle East Eye that the delegation on Thursday flew into Istanbul and included diplomats and security officials.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told the Anadolu news agency on Thursday that the idea to form a "joint working group" had been proposed by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi delegation is meeting a Turkish prosecutor investigating the case as well as representatives from the Justice Ministry, Interior Ministry, police and the national intelligence agency, a source told Reuters.

MEE understands that the move to form a working group follows a conversation between White House aide Jared Kushner, who is also President Donald Trump's son-in-law, and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, earlier this week.

'Davos in the desert' boycotted

Several companies and individuals have announced they are pulling out of Saudi Arabia's high-profile Future Investment Initiative conference, scheduled to be held in Riyadh later this month, in light of the events involving Khashoggi.

Those boycotting the conference, known as "Davos in the desert," include the New York Times, CNN, the Financial Times, Uber Technologies chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi and Viacom chief executive Bob Bakish.

British billionaire Richard Branson has also announced that his Virgin Group will suspend its discussions with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund over a planned $1bn investment in the group's space ventures.



Virgin group founder Richard Branson has halted discussions with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (AFP)

"What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government," Branson said in a statement on Thursday evening.

Khashoggi is a Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of Saudi government policies.

He had been a prominent and well-respected journalist for decades and worked as a foreign correspondent for Saudi newspapers across the region.

Khashoggi also previously served as the media adviser to Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal during his tenure as ambassador in London and Washington.

He had been based in Washington DC since he fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 over fears of the new government's crackdown on critical voices and was unsparing on the issue that caused his final rift with Riyadh.

He also pointedly criticised President Trump's relationship with Riyadh.