Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who has not been seen publicly since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, was drugged, beaten, killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives in the presence of a top Saudi diplomat, The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday, citing Turkish officials.
A pro-government newspaper in Turkey also says it obtained recordings indicating the journalist was tortured in the office of Mohammad al-Otaibi, Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul.
Pompeo told reporters as he departed Riyadh that neither side would talk about the “facts” of the case before Saudi officials were able to complete a “thorough investigation” into the journalist’s disappearance. He claimed that the country’s leaders “made no exceptions on who they would hold accountable.”
The incident has put immense pressure on the Trump administration ― including from Republicans ― to take action.
President Donald Trump on Monday floated the idea that “rogue killers” were involved. The next day, he appeared to more directly back the Saudis, who have denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance but are widely thought to be involved.
Trump cited the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s denial in a series of tweets. He later compared the condemnation of Saudi officials to the sexual assault accusations against his most recent Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.
“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Trump told The Associated Press. “I don’t like that.”
“We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned,” the president said.
Saudi officials were reportedly preparing to admit earlier in the week that Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone wrong. Yet two sources with knowledge of the recordings told The Wall Street Journal that Khashoggi was not interrogated. They said he was dragged off minutes after entering the consulate to obtain marriage documents. Both sources, along with the Turkish newspaper, say a Saudi forensic specialist suggested others in the room listen to music using headphones while he dismembered Khashoggi’s body.
The recordings reportedly suggest Khashoggi was killed in less than 10 minutes.
Al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul general, left Istanbul for Riyadh on Tuesday, Reuters reported. His departure came hours before his home was expected to be searched in relation to the journalist’s disappearance.
Trump, when considering the U.S. response to Khashoggi’s disappearance, has emphasized the importance of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia to American interests.