A Turkish opinion columnist on Thursday said the CIA
had wiretapped a phone call in which Saudi Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman called for the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi
to be silenced “as soon as possible.”
President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a frantic
proclamation saying the US would stand by Saudi Arabia, despite
the possibility that the de facto Saudi leader ordered the
Despite leaks indicating that Turkey has a ton of
damning information linking the Saudi crown prince to
Khashoggi’s killing, Turkey hasn’t moved to publicly blame him
A Turkish opinion columnist on Thursday said the CIA had
wiretapped a phone call in which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman called for the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi to be silenced
“as soon as possible.”
The news, citing unnamed sources and published to
Turkey’s Hurriyet news website, comes shortly after President
Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a frantic proclamation saying the
US would stand by Saudi Arabia despite the possibility that Crown
Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
Anonymous Turkish officials have continually released information
from Turkey’s ongoing Khashoggi investigation at a slow, steady
pace with increasingly grisly and damning details.
But while many previous reports linked the Saudi crown prince and
de facto Saudi leader to Khashoggi’s death, the latest news
purports to expose the US as spying on its ally, specifically the
Saudi royals, and ignoring potentially consequential evidence of
a murder plot.
Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist for Hurriyet, cited anonymous officials on
Thursday as saying the CIA had a tape of Crown Prince
Mohammed telling his brother Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s
ambassador to the US, that Khashoggi needed to be silenced
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 that “can
reveal more jaw-dropping evidence, as CIA has more wiretapped
phone calls at hand than the public knows about.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has purged the military,
press, and intelligence services of any critics, stripping them
of their independence. That means news published by the Turkish
media is thought to reflect news the Turkish government wishes to
Experts previously told Business Insider that Turkish leaks could
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.
The Trump administration sanctioned Saudi nationals in
response to Khashoggi’s killing and cut support for the
kingdom’s war in Yemen.
But Trump refused to outright blame Crown
Prince Mohammed for the killing, saying 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 crown prince in Khashoggi’s October 2
killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Ankara has not
directly blamed him.
In fact, no country has come out against Crown Prince Mohammed by
But consistent leaks from Turkish media, which Erdogan has almost
total control over after making his country the top 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 what
seems to be another move designed to keep pressure on the US.