Moments before Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered last October, two of his suspected murderers waiting at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate fretted about the upcoming task, audio transcripts reveal.
Turkey’s Sabah newspaper has released transcripts of conversations regarding the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate last year.
Khashoggi, a Saudi critic and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found.
'I know how to cut very well'
The audio transcripts reveal a conversation between Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of the 15-man hit squad allegedly dispatched to carry out the murder and Dr Salah Muhammed al Tubaigy, the head of Forensic Evidence at the Saudi General Security Department.
Mutreb asks whether the body can be disposed of in a bag to which Tubaigy responds that it is “too heavy, very tall too.”
Tubaigy adds: “I know how to cut very well. I have never worked on a warm body though, but I'll also manage that easily.
“I normally put on my earphones and listen to music when I cut cadavers. In the meantime, I sip on my coffee and smoke. After I dismember it, you will wrap the parts into plastic bags, put them in suitcases and take them out (of the building).”
Mutreb then asks whether the "animal to be sacrificed" has arrived. At 10:14 GMT (13:14 local), a member of the hit squad confirms Khashoggi’s arrival at the consulate.
'Do not do it, you will suffocate me'
The tapes also provide insight into Khashoggi’s last conversation.
Khashoggi is greeted at the consulate by someone he is familiar with and then invited into the consul’s office, which he is subsequently pulled by the arm into.
Mutreb then tells Khashoggi: "We have to take you back [to Riyadh]. There is an order from Interpol. Interpol demanded you be returned. We are here to take you."
Khashoggi then responds that there are no lawsuits against me and "my fiancee is waiting outside for me."
Mutreb then urges Khashoggi to leave a message for his son to which the Saudi dissident retorts: “What should I say, 'see you soon'?”
As the interrogation team further piles pressure on the journalist, Khashoggi asked: “How can such a thing take place at a consulate?”
“Help us so we can help you, because in the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don't help us you know what will happen eventually,” Mutreb tells Khashoggi.
Khashoggi then asks: "There is a towel here. Will you have me drugged?"
Tubaigy responds “We will put you to sleep” before proceeding to drug him.
"I have asthma. Do not do it, you will suffocate me,” are Khashoggi’s last words.
Mutreb and 10 others are now on trial in closed hearings in Saudi Arabia for their role.
Khashoggi’s death stirred widespread disgust and hurt the image of the prince, previously admired in the West for pushing to end the kingdom’s oil dependence and easing social restrictions including by allowing women to drive.
After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged The Washington Post journalist was killed inside the diplomatic building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.
The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi. Saudi officials deny these accusations.