Tape Doesn't Implicate Prince MBS, NSA Bolton Says

Turkey: 'Atrocious' recording suggests killer used drugs

Who is 'the boss' in phone call after Khashoggi's murder?

Audio related to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi doesn't implicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to USA national security adviser John Bolton. Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, one of 15 Saudis dispatched to Istanbul to confront Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate there, is reported to have made the phone call and spoke in Arabic to relay the message to "the boss" that the operation to kill Jamal was successful. But, they added, United States and European officials are not certain to whom "your boss" refers. The images are said to have been taken as the Saudis passed through security checks at the terminal when they left the country.

The article also reported that Qahtani first tried to convince Khashoggi to return to Riyadh but when he failed, he planned the murder.

"We gave the recordings, we gave them to Saudi Arabia, we gave them to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the English", Erdogan said in a televised speech. Turkish police haven't been able to locate the columnist's remains despite extensive searches, and an aide to Erdogan said his body may have been dissolved.

Speaking on the sidelines of a regional summit in Singapore, Bolton said that he has not listened to the recording himself but that "those who have listened to it" assess that it does not implicate Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.

It was unclear whether the crown prince will accompany the king next week.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, has denied that the "tell your boss" line was in the recording.

It's also been pointed out that while the name of MBS does not appear directly in the recording, the circumstances and details of the killing of Khashoggi is the closest anyone will ever get to catching an authoritarian despot "red handed". "However, they allowed our intelligence services to hear recordings, and at no moment were there any references to the mentioned phrase in those recordings", an unidentified Saudi official told the Washington Post.

Pictures from Istanbul's Ataturk airport show syringes, scissors and staple-guns in the 15-man hit squad's luggage, according to Turkey's pro-government newspaper Sabah.

The latest move of global community to pressure Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, came on Monday from the U.K. The British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met with King Salman, MBS and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Monday in Riyadh regarding the issue.

Bolton's comments playing down the phone call as a link to Mohammed reflect Trump's own resistance to blaming the crown prince for the journalist's death.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman will resume a domestic tour and make an annual address to the Shura Council next week, as the country grapples with its worst political crisis in a generation over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi version of events has changed over time. It first said he walked out of the embassy the day he disappeared before eventually acknowledging Khashoggi died inside the consulate.

The crown prince has come under scrutiny for having knowledge of the killing, which involved some members of his security entourage.

Trump has repeatedly emphasised the importance of maintaining a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, the world's largest purchaser of U.S. defence equipment.

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