Director of U.S.' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Gina Haspel, who is in Turkey to work on the investigation into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, has listened to the "compelling" audio tape of the brutal killing, Washington Post reported late Wednesday.
"A person familiar with the audio said it was 'compelling' and could put more pressure on the United States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of Khashoggi," the paper said.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Tuesday that Haspel is in Turkey to review evidence in Khashoggi murder. Speaking at an event titled "Transformers: Space" by the Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a contributor, Pence described the attack as "an assault on free and independent press."
"We are going to get to the bottom of it. This brutal murder of a journalist, of an innocent man, of a dissident, will not go without an American response and I expect without an international response. But we want to find out what happened," Pence said.
Pence said the information coming from Turkey "flies in the face of earlier assertions that have been made by the Saudi regime," as he noted Trump had "expressed his concern that there have been lies, there has been deception."
Khashoggi went missing on Oct. 2 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
After days of denying to know his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia on Saturday claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
The kingdom's announcement 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.
On the day of Khashoggi's disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. The 15 Saudis knew Khashoggi would enter the consulate to get a document he needed to get married, and once he was inside, the Saudis accosted Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, killed and dismembered the 59-year-old writer, according to media reports. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of the crown prince, wrote Oct. 8 that Khashoggi had left, and that claims the kingdom "have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless."
Five Turkish employees of the consulate also gave testimony to prosecutors Monday. 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.
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