Donald Trump is under pressure to confront the Saudi Crown Prince over a missing Saudi journalist.Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago, a pro-government Turkish newspaper says.
The new claim published by the Sabah newspaper on Saturday, through which Turkish security officials have leaked much information about the case, puts more pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi.
Also Saturday, Ankara’s top diplomat reiterated a call to Saudi Arabia to open up its consulate, from where Khashoggi disappeared, for Turkish authorities to search.
The writer, who has written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after he walked into the consulate on October 2.
The kingdom has maintained the allegations against it are “baseless,” though an official early on Saturday – on Khashoggi’s 60th birthday – acknowledged for the first time that some believe the writer was killed by the kingdom.
The disappearance has put pressure on US President Donald Trump, who has enjoyed close relations with the Saudis since entering office.
On Saturday, Trump expressed concern about Khashoggi’s fate and lack of answers, so many days after the journalist disappeared.
“Our first hope was that he was not killed but maybe that’s not looking too good from what we hear but there’s a lot to learn, there really is,” Trump said at the White House.
He later said he anticipated speaking to the Saudi ruler Saturday or Sunday.
Turkish authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi’s iPhone and his iCloud account, the newspaper said. The journalist had given his phones to his fiancee before entering the consulate.
The newspaper also alleged Saudi officials tried to delete the recordings first by incorrectly guessing Khashoggi’s PIN on the watch, then later using the journalist’s finger. However, Apple Watches do not have a fingerprint ID unlock function like iPhones. The newspaper did not address that in its report.
An Apple Watch can record audio and can sync that later with an iPhone over a Bluetooth connection if it is close by. The newspaper’s account did not elaborate on how the Apple Watch synced that information to both the phone and Khashoggi’s iCloud account.
Turkish officials say they believe a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” killed Khashoggi at the consulate. They’ve also alleged that they have video of the slaying, but not explained how they have it.