In his final moments of life, Jamal Khashoggi said “I can’t breathe” before he succumbed to the torture he was going through at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The transcript of the audio recording of the killing has been leaked to the media, according to Telegraph.
Khashoggi, a Saudi-born journalist, was living in the US and working for the Washington Post when he entered the consulate on October 2 of this year. He did not leave the building alive. According to Turkish officials, who conducted an exhaustive investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and subsequent death, he was tortured, killed, and dismembered inside the building by a hit squad of Saudis. His body still has not been recovered.
Turkey has stated for weeks now that they have audio recordings of the killing. According to the transcript, the journalist recognized at least one of his killers, General Maher Mutreb.
“You can’t do that…people are waiting outside,” Khashoggi said at one point. And someone was. Khashoggi’s fiancee was waiting for him right outside the building. Hatice Cengiz stood there for 12 hours, and never saw him again. Khashoggi had gone into the building in order to obtain paperwork so the two of them could be married.
When Khashoggi never appeared again, she contacted the Turkish authorities to report him missing. Khashoggi previously fled Saudi Arabia after being warned about his writing. Khashoggi spoke out against the Saudi ruling royal family, and spoke up in favor of a free press in the country.
It was a free press like the United States is supposed to have under the First Amendment that he wanted for Saudi Arabia. But while Khashoggi was living and working in the US, he was tortured and murdered at the hands of his enemies anyway.
His enemies are not, apparently, America’s enemies. Saudi Arabia and the US have maintained an alliance for many decades. Saudi Arabia supplied the US with oil, and the US sells more arms to Saudi Arabia than any other country. Billions of dollars move between the two nations regularly.
Donald Trump, president of the United States, has stated that this relationship will continue. He has also expressed doubt that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman actually ordered the killing, despite Turkish and US intelligence reports that say he did.
As Khashoggi fought for air in the last moments of his life, he said “I can’t breathe” several times before he died.
The transcript then goes on to describe the noises in the room, which include a “scream,” “gasping,” the sounds of a “saw,” and “cutting.”
Gen. Mutreb, as well as several other people who reportedly arrived at the consulate building together that day, was part of the crown prince’s personal security detail.
Saudi Arabia has changed its official story about Jamal Khashoggi several times. When news first broke around the world that the journalist was missing, Saudi Arabia said that Khashoggi walked out of the building by a back door completely unharmed. Later, they suggested that he had been killed by rogue agents inside the building after engaging in a fist fight with several men.
“I can’t breathe.”
Shortly after Khashoggi uttered his last words, Gen. Mutreb made at least three phone calls. Turkish officials believe that he was informing someone, perhaps the crown prince himself, that Khashoggi had been “dealt with,” so to speak.
“Tell yours, the thing is done, it’s done,” Mutreb said at during one of these calls, according to CNN.
US officials have received a complete copy of the audio recording itself.
A total of 15 Saudis arrived in Istanbul by private jet prior to Khashoggi’s murder. The 15 men can be seen on surveillance video entering the building shortly before Khashoggi, who had a scheduled appointment. The 15 men leave hours later. Khashoggi never did.