November 12, 2018 6:34 am
Updated: November 12, 2018 9:16 am

Trudeau says Canada intelligence officials heard audio recording of Khashoggi murder

ABOVE: At the Canadian Embassy in Paris on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadian intelligence has heard the Khashoggi tapes.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday became the first Western leader to acknowledge his country had received the recordings of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Canada has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share,” Trudeau said from the Canadian Embassy in Paris, where he was attending the Peace Forum following the WWI Armistice centenary.

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On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had given recordings “to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them.”

The Canadian leader is the first since that announcement to officially confirm that his country’s intelligence had listened to the audio.

Trudeau said that he himself had not heard them, and he wouldn’t give any details on the contents of the tapes.

Trudeau said he thanked Erdogan for “his strength in responding to the Khashoggi situation” at the sidelines of the Paris ceremonies this weekend.

France’s account of Erdogan’s claim to have shared the tapes differs somewhat.

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When questioned on France 2 television Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Turkey has “not to my knowledge” given the French government any such recordings, and suggesting the Turks were playing games.

“If the Turkish president has information to give to us, he must give it to us,” Le Drian said.

“That means he has a political game in this situation,” Le Drian added, referring to Erdogan.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, who visited Turkey last month for information on the investigation, is reported to have heard the audio recordings of the killing. The existence of the recordings was leaked to the media but never openly confirmed until last week.

Turkey says Khashoggi, who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was strangled and dismembered at the consulate as part of a premeditated killing. Media reports have suggested that his body could have been chemically dissolved.

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Saudi Arabia insisted for weeks after Khashoggi disappeared that he had walked out of the consulate, before changing its account to say he died in a brawl.

Subsequently, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Turkish evidence indicates that Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated, shifting its explanation in an apparent effort to ease international outrage over the death.

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Saudi officials characterize the killing as a rogue operation carried out by Saudi agents who exceeded their authority. Yet some of those implicated in the killing are close to the crown prince, including a member of the prince’s entourage on foreign trips who was seen at the consulate before Khashoggi’s slaying.

On Monday, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt became the first British minister to visit Saudi Arabia since the Oct. 2 killing. He met with King Salman and was expected to meet the crown prince and press Saudi authorities to fully co-operate with Turkish investigators.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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