ISTANBUL -- Just hours after writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a man strolled out of the diplomatic post apparently wearing the columnist's clothes as part of a deception to sow confusion over his fate, according to surveillance video leaked Monday.
The new video broadcast by CNN, as well as a pro-government Turkish newspaper's report that a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage made four calls to the royal's office from the consulate around the same time, put ever-increasing pressure on the kingdom. Meanwhile, Turkish crime-scene investigators swarmed a garage Monday night in Istanbul where a Saudi consular vehicle had been parked.
All this came on the eve of the prince's high-profile investment summit in Riyadh, which has seen a raft of the world's top business leaders decline to attend over the slaying of the writer for The Washington Post.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who said he would not attend the conference, met with the crown prince on Monday night. The Saudi Foreign Ministry tweeted out a photo of the two men meeting, and U.S. Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh said in a separate tweet that Mnuchin raised the Khashoggi investigation in his discussions with the crown prince.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that details of Khashoggi's killing "will be revealed in all its nakedness" in an address he'll make before parliament today.
"We are faced with a situation in which it was a brutally planned [killing] and efforts were made to cover it up," said Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party. "God willing, the results will be brought into the open, those responsible will be punished and no one will dare think of carrying out such a thing again."
The kingdom's announcement Saturday that Khashoggi died in a fistfight was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that he was "not satisfied with what I've heard," regarding Khashoggi's death. He added: "We will know very soon."
Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, said the White House is still gathering facts on Khashoggi's killing and wants to preserve the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia.
"I see things that are deceptive every day," he said Monday at a CNN event in New York after he was asked if the Saudi government had been deceptive about Khashoggi's death. "I see them in the Middle East, I see them in Washington."
"We have our eyes wide open," he added.
Kushner said he had advised Mohammed to be "transparent" about the incident. Asked whether the administration is reassessing the crown prince as an ally, Kushner said that "once we have all the facts then we'll make an assessment."
Turkish media reports and officials maintain that a 15-member Saudi team flew to Istanbul on Oct. 2, knowing Khashoggi would enter the consulate to get a document he needed to get remarried. Once he was inside, the Saudis accosted Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, killed and dismembered the 59-year-old writer, according to Turkish media reports.
The ruse -- acknowledged by a Saudi official and another Saudi briefed on the investigation into Khashoggi's killing -- added to the numerous doubts about the kingdom's explanation of how the writer died.
The use of a "body double" suggests a premeditated plan to make Khashoggi disappear, through death or abduction, and to cover it up -- possibly contradicting Saudi insistence that his death was accidental.
Surveillance video on CNN showed the man in Khashoggi's dress shirt, suit jacket and pants, although he wore a different pair of shoes. He also wore spectacles and a fake beard. It cited a Turkish official as describing the man as a "body double" and a member of the Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer.
The man walks out of the consulate via its back exit -- with an accomplice who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and carrying a white plastic bag -- then takes a taxi to Istanbul's famed Blue Mosque, where he goes to a public bathroom, changes out of the clothes and leaves. The two men dispose of the plastic bag, which Turkish officials believe contained Khashoggi's clothes, CNN reported. He later eats dinner with his accomplice and goes to a hotel, where footage shows him smiling and laughing.
The state-run broadcaster TRT later also reported that a man who entered the consulate was seen leaving the building in Khashoggi's clothes.
In the days after Khashoggi vanished, Saudi officials denied his killing and initially said he had left the consulate by its back door.
The body double appeared to be an attempt to substantiate that denial, but the cover story fell apart, according to a diplomat familiar with the deliberations, because the video footage clearly reveals the body double's flaws, mainly that he is wearing different shoes than Khashoggi wore when he entered the consulate.
"It was a flawed body double, so it never became an official part of the Saudi government's narrative," said the diplomat.
"They panicked after he died, and in order to make it appear he left the consulate, they decided to impersonate him," said the Saudi official who was briefed on the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The official also said that the body had been rolled in a rug and given to a local collaborator to dispose of. Turkish officials have said that Khashoggi's body was dismembered before being removed from the consulate.
CALLS TO PRINCE'S OFFICE
A separate report Monday by newspaper Yeni Safak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Mohammed's entourage seen on trips to the U.S., France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate. The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Mohammed's office. It said another call went to the United States.
Yeni Safak cited no source for the information. However, pro-government newspapers have been leaking information about Khashoggi's killing, apparently with the help of Turkish security forces.
Officials in Saudi Arabia have not answered repeated requests for comment in recent days, including on Monday. Saudi Arabia so far has not acknowledged or explained Mutreb's presence in Istanbul or the presence of a forensics and autopsy expert at the consulate before Khashoggi arrived.
Last week, a leaked photo apparently taken from surveillance footage showed Mutreb at the consulate, just ahead of Khashoggi's arrival. Mutreb's name also matches that of a first secretary who once served as a diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in London, according to a 2007 list compiled by the British Foreign Office.
By nightfall, Turkish police began searching an underground car parking garage in Istanbul's Sultangazi district. Surveillance footage on TRT showed what Turkish security officials described as suspicious actions, including an image of a man moving a bag from one vehicle to another.
Five Turkish employees of the consulate also gave testimony to prosecutors Monday, Turkish media reported. Istanbul's chief prosecutor had summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi Consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony. Some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.
Meanwhile, Saudi state media reported that both Mohammed and King Salman made calls to Khashoggi's son, Salah, early Monday. Statements from the agency said both the king and the crown prince expressed their condolences for Khashoggi's death.
A Saudi friend of Khashoggi who was in frequent touch with him before his death said Salah Khashoggi had been under a travel ban and barred from leaving the kingdom since last year as a result of his father's criticism of the government. The friend spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion. The Saudi statements did not acknowledge the ban.
GERMANY TO HALT ARMS
Earlier, in a move that could put further pressure on Trump to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Sunday evening that her government would not approve new arms exports to the kingdom until further notice.
"There is an urgent need to clarify what happened - we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account," she said at a news conference. "I agree with all those who say that the, albeit already limited, arms exports can't take place in the current circumstances," Merkel said. While the move affects future deals, exports that have already been approved to the second-biggest foreign market for German arms equipment will proceed for now.
Germany is not a major source of Saudi arms: The United States and Britain rank first and second, with France a distant third, according to the Stockholm Institute on International Peace, which tracks arms sales.
Germany is the first major U.S. ally to cast doubts over future arms sales after Khashoggi's death, and the move is likely to put pressure on bigger exporters, including the United States, to do the same. Trump has ruled out suspending arms exports but faces bipartisan calls to hold the perpetrators behind the writer's killing accountable.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, who has been trying to coax Trump into ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia, said Monday that it's "laughable" to believe the crown prince was not involved in Khashoggi's death.
Information for this article was contributed by Suzan Fraser, Ayse Wieting, Jon Gambrell, Aya Batrawy and Geir Moulson of The Associated Press; by Erin Cunningham, John Hudson and Rick Noack of The Washington Post; by Ben Hubbard of The New York Times; and by Jennifer Epstein of Bloomberg News.
Security personnel guard the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Monday.
A Section on 10/23/2018
Print Headline: Video is said to show body double leaving Saudi Consulate