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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.
A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.
Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.
Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.
The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”
Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”
At least four suspects identified by Turkish officials with links to Khashoggi’s disappearance have direct ties to Mohammed, per news reports.
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