John Bolton: Khashoggi murder tape does not implicate Saudi prince

National Security Advisor John Bolton said Tuesday that an audio recording that Turkish officials say links Saudi Arabian operatives to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi didn’t appear to implicate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a report.

“That’s not the conclusion that I think the people who heard it have come to,” Bolton said at a press briefing in Singapore, adding that he hadn’t listened to the tape himself, the Washington Post reported.

Turkey has previously said it shared recordings linked to the murder of the newspaper’s US-based columnist with officials in Riyadh, Washington and other capitals.

The 59-year-old Saudi dissident was last seen entering the consulate on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage. He was killed by a 15-man hit squad sent from Riyadh.

After initial denials, Saudi officials acknowledged the killing was premeditated and media reports have suggested that his body could have been chemically dissolved.

His brazen murder has sparked intense speculation over what, if anything, Crown Prince Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, might have known about the operation.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described the recording as “appalling,” Turkish media reported Tuesday.

Erdogan said the killing was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government, but that he could not think it came from King Salman, for whom he has “limitless respect.”

He told reporters on his plane returning from a weekend visit to France that he discussed Khashoggi’s killing with the US, French and German leaders at a dinner in Paris.

“We played the recordings regarding this murder to everyone who wanted them from us. Our intelligence organization did not hide anything,” he said, according to Reuters.

“We played them to all who wanted them including the Saudis, the USA, France, Canada, Germany, Britain,” he said. “The recordings are really appalling. Indeed when the Saudi intelligence officer listened to the recordings he was so shocked he said: ‘This one must have taken heroin, only someone who takes heroin would do this.’”

Erdogan added: “The crown prince says, ‘I will clarify the matter, I will do what is necessary.’ We are waiting patiently.”

Last month, two intelligence sources told Reuters that one of the crown prince’s top aides, Saud al-Qahtani, gave orders via Skype to Khashoggi’s killers at the consulate.

More recently, a government source said Qahtani featured prominently in the recordings.

With Post Wires

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