A missing Saudi Arabian journalist recorded his death on an Apple Watch, according to a Turkish newspaper.
Pro-government publication Sabah claimed that Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul 11 days ago.
The Washington Post columnist, who lived in self-imposed exile in the US, wrote a critical piece about Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman before he vanished.
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman MP Tom Tugendhat said the UK must consider its relations with Saudi Arabia if the state ordered Khashoggi’s murder.
Mr Tugendhat added that it was important to establish the facts, but if the Riyadh government had murdered Khashoggi there could be a downgrading of diplomatic relations and a boycott by UK ministers.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he wanted to know the truth about what happened and said he feared similar ‘disappearances’ would become a ‘new normal’.
Financial Times editor Lionel Barber announced the newspaper would be pulling out of its partnership in a high-profile economic conference in Riyadh, while Sir Richard Branson has frozen several business links with the Gulf state.
Mr Tugendhat said International Trade Secretary Liam Fox should boycott the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh later this month if Saudi involvement in Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance was proved.
The kingdom has maintained the allegations against it are ‘baseless’. Turkish officials say they believe a 15-member Saudi ‘assassination squad’ killed Khashoggi at the consulate.
Turkey has yet to publish any evidence of him being slain, though surveillance footage around the consulate shows a convoy of vehicles with diplomatic license plates leaving the Saudi Consulate for the consul’s home in Istanbul a little under two hours after Khashoggi’s arrival.
Saudi Arabia has said it had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance, without explaining or offering evidence of how the writer left the consulate and disappeared into Istanbul with his fiancee waiting outside.
A Saudi-owned satellite news channel has begun referring to the 15-man team as ‘tourists’, without providing evidence to support the claim. It echoes how Russia has described the men who allegedly carried out the Novichok nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury, England, in March.
Early on Saturday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency published a statement from Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud again denying the kingdom’s involvement. ‘
What has been circulating about orders to kill [Khashoggi] are lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom, which is committed to its principles, rules and traditions and is in compliance with international laws and conventions,’ Prince Abdulaziz said.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has put pressure on President Donald Trump, who has enjoyed close relations with the Saudis since entering office.
Trump promised to personally call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman soon about ‘the terrible situation in Turkey.’ ‘We’re going to find out what happened,’ Trump pledged Friday when questioned by reporters.
Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who accompanied him to the Saudi consulate, the State Department said Friday.
No details of the conversation were released. Cengiz said Khashoggi was not nervous when he entered the consulate to obtain paperwork required for their marriage. ‘
He said, “See you later my darling”, and went in,’ she told the Associated Press. In written responses to questions by the AP, Cengiz said Turkish authorities had not told her about any recordings and Khashoggi was officially ‘still missing’.
She said investigators were examining his phones, which he had left with her.
A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey on Friday as part of an investigation into the writer’s disappearance. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Saudis welcomed the joint effort and said the kingdom was keen ‘to sustain the security and safety of its citizenry, wherever they might happen to be’.
Global business leaders also are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Khashoggi.
Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.
Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of activists and businessmen.