- Turkish intelligence reportedly said the CIA wiretapped a phone call where Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman calls for slain critic Jamal Khashoggi to be silenced “as soon as possible.”
- The news comes just after President Donald Trump issued a frantic proclamation saying the US would stand by Saudi Arabia, despite the possibility that the Saudi prince ordered the killing.
- Despite reportedly having a ton of damning information linking the Saudi prince to Khashoggi’s killing, Turkey hasn’t moved to blame him or even sanction anyone.
Turkish intelligence reportedly said the CIA wiretapped a phonecall where Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Jamal Khashoggi to be silenced “as soon as possible.”
The news, made via a column for Turkey’s Hürriyet news website, comes just after President Donald Trump issued a frantic proclaimation saying the US would stand by Saudi Arabia, despite the real possibility that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered the killing.
The leak from Turkish intelligence follows a longstanding pattern of Ankara releasing information from the ongoing Khashoggi investigation at a slow, steady pace with increasingly grisly and damning details.
But beyond the constant and anonymous assertions that implicate the Saudi prince as the architect of Khashoggi’s murder, this leak purports to expose the US as spying on its ally, specifically the Saudi royals, and ignoring potentially consequential evidence of a murder.
Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist for Hürriyet cited anonymous Turkish intelligence officials on Thursday as saying that the CIA has a a tape of Crown Prince Mohammed telling his brother Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, that Khashoggi needs to be silenced immediately.
Selvi wrote: “It is said that the crown prince gave an instruction to silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible and this instruction was captured during the CIA wiretapping. The subsequent murder is the ultimate confirmation of this instruction.” He called the tape a “smoking gun.”
Selvi then called for an international investigation which “can reveal more jaw-dropping evidence, as CIA has more wiretapped phone calls at hand than the public knows about.”
Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan has purged the military, press, and intelligence services of any critics, stripping them of their independence.
Experts previously told Business Insider that Turkish leaks can be seen as an intelligence or information warfare campaign from the Turkish government, aimed at forcing the US to reconsider its ties to Saudi Arabia.
Trump’s administration sanctioned Saudi Arabian nationals in response to Khashoggi’s murder and cut support for the kingdom’s war in Yemen.
But Trump refused to outright blame Crown Prince Mohammed for the killing, saying that it wasn’t in US interests to publicly break with the 33-year-old monarch set to rule the US-allied kingdom for the next four or five decades.
Importantly, though Turkish intelligence and even Erdogan have several times implicated the Saudi prince in Khashoggi’s murder, and now reportedly hold this “ultimate confirmation” of his role in the murder, Ankara has not directly blamed him.
In fact, no country has come out against Crown Prince Mohammed.
But consistent leaks from Turkish media, which Erdogan has almost total control over after making his country the number one jailer of journalists, have done incredible public relations harm to the kingdom and to US support for it.
By leaking an accusation that the CIA has been spying on Saudi Arabia, and calling for an international investigation to reveal more presumably classified CIA surveillance, the Turkish intelligence, media, and government have neatly aligned in a prolonged line of attack that quite obviously seeks to harm the US.