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Turkish media: CIA holds recording of MBS calling for Khashoggi to be 'silenced'

If confirmed, the CIA tape would further put pressure on MBS, who is widely believed to have ordered Khashoggi's murder
CIA director Gina Haspel reportedly discussed with Turkish officials an incriminating phone call between the Saudi crown prince and his brother (AFP)

The CIA has a recording of a phone call in which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave instructions to "silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible", Turkish news website Hurriyet Daily News reported on Thursday.

CIA director Gina Haspel reportedly indicated during her visit to Turkey on 23 October that her agency had monitored a call between the crown prince - commonly referred to as MBS - and his brother, Saudi Ambassador to the United States Khalid bin Salman, Hurriyet newspaper columnist Abdulkadir Selvi cited anonymous sources as saying.

"It is being said the crown prince gave orders to 'silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible'," in the call, Selvi said.

Asked about the report, a Turkish official told Reuters he had no information about such a recording.

If confirmed, the recording would further put pressure on MBS, who is widely believed to have ordered Khashoggi's death - despite US President Donald Trump standing steadfast by the young Saudi leader.

The latest report came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - whose government has led the pressure on Saudi Arabia by steadily leaking information on the slain Saudi journalist’s death - denied reports that he may meet with the Saudi prince later this month.

Erdogan's denial came after his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin had told state-owned Anadolu news agency that a meeting between MBS and the Turkish head of state “could happen” during the G20 summit in Argentine on 30 November.

Khashoggi was a prominent Saudi journalist and insider turned critic, who had been living in exile for a year when he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October in an operation that Erdogan and the CIA have said was ordered by the highest level of Saudi leadership.

Saudi Arabia has maintained that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi's killing.

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 - a new narrative that has failed to convince many abroad.

The Saudi public prosecution has charged 11 citizens - recommending the death penalty for five of them - in relation to Khashoggi’s murder.

"The European position has been very clear from the very beginning,” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Thursday morning at a news conference in Ankara. “We have always been calling for a completely transparent and credible investigation that we have not seen yet completed.

“We expect that accountability is ensured, which means that those responsible, those really responsible, for this terrible murder have to be taken accountable."

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