Turkey’s government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video proof that missing Saudi Arabian writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Washington Post reported late Thursday.
The newspaper, for which Mr. Khashoggi is a columnist, cited anonymous officials as saying the recordings show a Saudi security team detained the writer when he went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding. The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm the report, and Turkish officials would not comment.
Late on Friday, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia denied allegations regarding the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The Saudi Interior Minister said allegations about orders to murder Mr. Khashoggi were “lies” targeting the government, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The Turkish government’s claim comes as global business leaders are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Mr. Khashoggi.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada has been and continues to be clear and strong with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia about defending human rights as leaders around the world demanded Saudi Arabia to address the matter.
Mr. Trudeau also said Canada has “serious issues” around reports about Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, adding there is still more to learn before he’ll comment further.
Meanwhile, a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey as part of an investigation into the writer’s disappearance, Turkey’s state-run news outlet Anadolu Agency said.
Saudi Arabia has called the allegation it abducted or harmed Mr. Khashoggi “baseless.” However, it has offered no evidence to support its claim he left the consulate and vanished, despite his fiancée waiting outside.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the delegation would hold talks with Turkish officials over the weekend. It did not provide further details.
On Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey and Saudi Arabia would form a “joint working group” to look into Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.
A Saudi source also said a senior royal, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, visited Turkey on Thursday for talks. Later the same day Turkey said the two countries had agreed to form a joint working group - at Riyadh’s initiative - to investigate the case.
Mr. Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. Saudi officials say he left shortly afterwards but Turkish officials and his fiancee, who was waiting outside, said he never came out.
On Friday, British billionaire Richard Branson suspended business links with Saudi Arabia, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he might not attend a major investment conference in the country this month.
“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government,” Mr. Branson said in a statement.
Mr. Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says he will suspend his role as director in two tourism projects in Saudi Arabia while an investigation takes place. He also is putting on hold discussions about a proposed Saudi investment in space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.
Mr. Khosrowshahi is scheduled to speak at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, and event loosely nicknamed the “Davos of the Desert” that takes place Oct. 23-25 in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
“I’m very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said. “We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won’t be attending the FII conference in Riyadh.”
The investment conference lists dozens of expected speakers, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Blackrock Chairman Larry Fink and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the latter confirming Friday that he will go.
Joe Kaeser, the president and CEO of German industrial giant Siemens AG, also still plans to attend for now.
The Financial Times, which is listed as a media partner to the event, announced it would no longer be doing so. Bloomberg also said it would no longer serve as a media partner, thought it planned to cover the event.
CNN cancelled its partnership, and said its anchors and reporters would no longer moderate panels. The New York Times and its business columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin similarly pulled out of the event. CNBC also said Friday it would not participate.
Mr. Trudeau said Canada has been engaged in a significant diplomatic effort on human rights with Saudi Arabia for many years, including in his own conversation last spring with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
“We have been extremely active both in private and in public over many years now around our concern for human rights in Saudi Arabia, and we will continue to be clear and strong in speaking up for human rights around the world regardless of with whom,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters today at la Francophonie’s biennial summit in Armenia.
The controversy comes after Canada’s own dispute with the Saudis, triggered when Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the immediate release of detained activists, including Samar Badawi, a champion of women’s rights and the sister of detained blogger Raif Badawi.
French President Emmanuel Macron is demanding “the whole truth” about the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, calling the early details about the case “very worrying.”
Mr. Macron said, “I’m waiting for the truth and complete clarity to be made” since the matter is “very serious.” He spoke Friday in Yerevan, Armenia to French broadcasters RFI and France 24.
Germany added it is “very concerned” about the writer’s disappearance, and is calling on Saudi Arabia to “participate fully” in clearing up reports that he may have been killed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said “the suspicion that is being talked about here is appalling, and so this disappearance must be cleared up as quickly and thoroughly as possible.”
The fiancée of the missing Saudi journalist on Friday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to use his clout to find out what happened to her partner.
Following a Turkish court’s decision to free American evangelical pastor, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Working very hard on Pastor (Andrew) Brunson!”
That prompted Hatice Cengiz to ask about her missing fiancée.
“What about Jamal Khashoggi?” she tweeted.
Trump said Thursday the United States may be closer to finding out what happened to Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Speaking to reporters, Trump said he saw no reason to block Saudi purchases of U.S. arms or its investments in the United States despite the journalist’s case, saying the Gulf nation would just move its money into Russia and China.
“They’re spending US$110-billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs ... for this country. I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of US$110 billion into the United States, because you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to take that money and spend it in Russia or China or someplace else,” he said.
With a report from Reuters