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Saudis tampered with CCTV cameras after Khashoggi murder: report

By AFP 6 November 2018
Caption
Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mujeb leaves the Saudi consulate for investigation in Istanbul, Turkey, 30 October 2018. According to reports, the Saudi public prosecutor is in Istanbul for talks with Turkish investigators over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul three weeks ago. EPA-EFE/DHA

Turkish media have reported that staff at Saudi Arabia 's consulate in Istanbul tried to dismantle security cameras to help cover up the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi .

The pro-government Sabah newspaper reported on Tuesday that the Saudis tried to rip out the camera inside the consulate on October 2, the day Khashoggi was murdered.

They also tried to tamper with cameras at the police security booth outside the building.

Khashoggi, a former Washington Post columnist and critic of the powerful Saudi Crown Prince  Mohammed bin Salman , also known as MBS, was killed in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His body remains missing.

According to the report, on October 6, at 1am local time, a consulate member staff went into the police security post outside the Saudi consulate to access the video system.

Sabah reported that the staff member put in a digital lock code into the system, which did not dismantle any cameras, rather the code was to prevent access to any videos showing movement at the entrance, including Khashoggi’s arrival at the consulate.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reporting from Istanbul said that their attempt was in any case irrelevant, because the police had already deciphered the coding and accessed the system, retrieving a copy of the video well ahead of the attempt of tampering.

“All of this demonstrates, according to Turkish officials, in terms of the … whole set of procedures, that there was an effort by the Saudi Arabian consulate to once again tamper with evidence,” Simmons said.

“This follows a pattern of leaks which demonstrate beyond any doubt, according to the Turks, that the Saudis weren’t out to investigate a murder, they were out to cover it up.”

Turkish authorities claimed last month that security camera footage was removed from the Saudi consulate and that Turkish staff were told to take a holiday on the day Khashoggi was scheduled to visit the consulate to pick up a document for marriage.

On October 23, Turkish President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech to ruling party lawmakers in Ankara that the murder was planned days in advance by a Saudi team.

He said that the surveillance system at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was deactivated on purpose.

“First [the Saudis implicated] removed the hard disc from the camera system,” Erdogan said. “This is a political murder.”

Erdogan said he wanted answers to many questions, such as who gave the orders to kill Khashoggi and what happened to his body.

On Friday, Erdogan said that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government, but that he does not believe King Salman was to blame. More evidence to come

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, reiterated on a visit to Japan on Tuesday that it is “obvious” that the 15-member team from Saudi Arabia had arrived in Istanbul with instructions to kill Khashoggi.

However, Turkey has not been able to receive an answer from Saudi Arabia as to who specifically ordered Kashoggi’s murder.

“We have to find out who gave these instructions. This is the simple question that we have put to the Saudis as well. We made it very public. It’s an ongoing investigation,” Cavusoglu said. DM

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