Khashoggi’s final words revealed in transcript of recording from Saudi consulate: ‘I can’t breathe’

'You can't do that', journalist says before being attacked

Samuel Osborne
Monday 10 December 2018 10:50 GMT
Republican senator Lindsey Graham says Saudi Crown Prince complicit in murder of Jamal Khashoggi 'to the highest level possible'

Jamal Khashoggi’s last words before he died were “I can’t breathe,” according to a report citing a source who has read a full transcript of the journalist’s murder.

Khashoggi was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October in what Saudi Arabia initially claimed was a botched attempt to return him to the Gulf state.

“You are coming back,” a man identified as a former Saudi diplomat and intelligence official, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, told the Washington Post columnist after he entered the consulate, according to CNN.

“You can’t do that,” Khashoggi replied. “People are waiting outside,” he said, referring to his fiancee.

Khashoggi was then attacked by several people, CNN’s source said, and could be heard gasping for air.

“I can’t breathe,” he said at least three times. They were his last discernible words.

What follows are more noises, which the transcript records as: “Scream. Scream. Gasping.”

It then describes what can be heard next: “Saw. Cutting.”

A voice identified by Turkish authorities as belonging to Dr Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi, the head of forensic medicine at Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry, can reportedly be heard advising those in the room to listen to music as they dismembered Khashoggi’s body.

“Put your headphones in, or listen to music like me.”

Saudi Arabia has not named the 21 suspects it has allegedly detained over the murder.

The transcript then notes that Mr Mutreb made a phone call, saying: “Tell yours, the thing is done, it’s done.” CNN reported its source believes “yours” refers to someone’s boss. Turkish officials said the calls were made to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Turkish officials have not said how they obtained a recording of the killing. A transcript of the recording was translated before being shared with other intelligence services. CNN’s source read the translated version.

A Saudi official told CNN: “The relevant Saudi security officials have reviewed the transcript and tape materials through Turkish security channels and nowhere in them is there any reference or indication of a call being made.”

It comes as Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister ruled out the extradition of suspects in the murder after Istanbul’s chief prosecutor filed warrants for the arrest of two former senior Saudi officials.

Turkish officials said last week the prosecutor’s office had concluded there was “strong suspicion” Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who served as deputy head of foreign intelligence, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s murder.

“We don’t extradite our citizens,” Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said. He was speaking at a news conference at a Gulf Arab summit in Riyadh on Sunday.

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Last month, the US Treasury sanctioned 17 Saudis, including Mr Qahtani but not Mr Asiri, for their role in the murder.

The Saudi public prosecutor has said the order to repatriate Khashoggi came from Mr Asiri and a travel ban has been imposed on Mr Qahtani. Mr Jubeir declined to confirm or deny whether the men were currently detained, referring the question to the Saudi public prosecutor.

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