Ankara, Turkey – An audio recording of the dying moments of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul was shared with Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany in addition to the United States, the Turkish leader said Saturday.
"We gave it to Saudi Arabia," said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Ankara Airport before moving to Paris for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the First World War. "We gave it to America." We gave them all to Germans, French, English. "
It was the first time that Erdogan publicly acknowledged the existence of an audio recording that, according to Turkish officials, supports the claim that Khashoggi, a Washington Post World Opinions official, was killed by a Saudi -titled 15-member squad after he was arrested the US had entered consulate on 2 October.
Greater access to the footage could increase the pressure on the Trump administration to crack down on Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi's killing.
Although Erdogan said he "gave" the ribbons to these countries, it was unclear whether he meant that he had physically passed them on.
A senior German official said that the head of the Federal Intelligence Service received an order and heard the audio recording during a trip to Ankara. "The recording was very convincing," said the official.
The White House and the Élysée Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Department of State said it was "no confirmation or rejection" of Erdogan's comments.
US officials said CIA director Gina Haspel heard the recording last month while traveling to Turkey.
Two Turkish officials, who commented on the sensitivity of the topic on the condition of anonymity, said the audio file makes it clear that Khashoggi suffered a lengthy death. He is suffocated for about seven minutes before he dies, they said.
One said he had learned directly from Erdogan that the killers needed 7.5 minutes to stifle Khashoggi. The other said that he had been informed by someone who had listened to the recording. No one said they heard the tape themselves.
Turkey did not say how she got a consulate record. The interception of foreign missions violates the Vienna Convention. Turkish newspapers had written stories about how the recording of Khashoggi's Apple Watch was made, a scenario skeptical of experts.
Saudi Arabia now recognizes that Khashoggi was deliberately killed in the building and says he has arrested 18 people. It has also fired two senior officials near the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Crown Prince is not directly affected by Turkey, but Erdogan has said that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the "highest levels" in Saudi Arabia and he does not believe that King Salman is responsible for it.
Erdogan said he could meet President Trump during his visit to Paris. Two Turkish officials said they expected a meeting with talks on US-Turkish relations, Iranian sanctions and the Khashoggi case.
As Turkey has increased pressure on the Saudis through leaks in the news media about the cruel murder, Saudi Arabia has had to change its story. Saudi officials initially insisted that the journalist leave the consulate alive.
Analysts and Western diplomats say that Erdogan uses the carefully staged leaks to exploit Turkish interests internationally.
"Erdogan can afford that this crisis is played out in various ways because of the strength of his position," said a Western diplomat who, citing the protocol, refused to be named. "He has a media infrastructure that works for him, and the power is pretty centralized."
Turkish authorities have repeatedly complained of lack of Saudi cooperation in the investigation and said the Supreme Prosecutor of Saudi Arabia, which was in Istanbul last month, did not disclose any information.
The Turkish official, who said he had been taught on the tape, said the prosecutor was more interested in finding out what evidence Turkey already had than providing information. He also asked for the dead journalist's phones, the official said.
Erdogan said that the Saudi public prosecutor hinders his visit. "And then they invite our chief prosecutor there," he said. "The crime scene is here."
"The murder or murders are definitely within those 15," he said, pointing to 15 members of a suspected team identified by Turkish authorities. "The Saudi Arabian government will succeed in revealing this by making these 15 people talk."
Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of the Saudi intelligence service and ambassador to Washington and London, denied an invitation from the International Peace Institute in New York on Friday evening and rejected appeals against an international investigation into the murder. "The Kingdom is proud of its legal system," he said. "It will never accept foreign intervention in this system."
He expects Saudi Arabia to "put all the facts on the table".
"The kingdom wants to show the rest of the world exactly what has happened and move on from there," he said. He said he hoped that this would mean an improvement in the behavior of the Saudi security forces as well as the image of the kingdom, "which has been tarnished by our tragic and extremely painful event throughout our lives."
However, Turkish officials say they do not entrust Saudi Arabia to bring the suspects to justice or to hold the person responsible for the order accountable. They say that Saudi Arabia has rejected Turkish requests to extradite suspects tried in court in Turkey.
"They do not tell the whole truth," said another Turkish official. "There is an important person behind it and they have to explain."
Mekhennet reported from New York. Zeynep Karatas in Istanbul and James McAuley and Seung Min Kim in Paris contributed to this report.