Hours after the New York Times reported that Turkey’s long-rumored audio recording of Saudi journalist-turned dissident’s murder inside the Saudi consulate included “strong evidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing, National Security Advisor John Bolton said Tuesday that no such link existed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The recording didn’t appear to implicate the Crown Prince, Bolton said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said over the weekend that Turkey had shared the tape with the US, Germany, the UK, France and Saudi Arabia. The Times had reported that one member of the kill team could be heard telling his superior to “tell your boss” that Khashoggi was dead. Intelligence sources quoted by the Times said they believe “your boss” was a reference to MbS – though he wasn’t named and there’s still no direct evidence of his involvement.
Bolton specified that he hadn’t heard the recording himself and was merely referencing analyst reports:
Mr. Bolton said he hadn’t personally heard the audio recording provided by Turkey but that U.S. officials believe it doesn’t appear to connect the crown prince to the murder. “That’s not the conclusion that I think the people who heard it have come to,” he said at a media briefing in Singapore on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Saudis have continued to deny MbS’s involvement.
“We categorically deny the reporting referencing the crown prince in this matter or that he had any knowledge whatsoever of it,” a Saudi official said Tuesday. “Despite our multiple requests, the Turkish authorities have not provided us with the recordings, however, they allowed our intelligence services to hear recordings and at no moment was there any reference to the mentioned phrase in those recordings.”
Bolton added that the US trusts Saudi Arabia to conduct its own investigation.
Mr. Bolton said the U.S. trusts that Saudi Arabia will investigate the killing. “We expect that they will continue the investigation and that’s very important to us and it’s very important to others in the region, too,” he said. “The president has made it very clear that he expects that we’re going to get the truth from the Saudis.”
Meanwhile, the record run of falling oil prices continues…