Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago, a pro-government Turkish newspaper says.
The new claim published by the Sabah newspaper, through which Turkish security officials have leaked much information about the case, did not immediately explain how officials there also reportedly have video of Khashoggi’s alleged killing.
However, it puts more pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, who has written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after he walked into the consulate on October 2.
The kingdom has maintained the allegations against it are “baseless”, though an official early on Saturday acknowledged for the first time some believe Khashoggi was killed by the kingdom.
Authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi’s iPhone and his iCloud account, the newspaper said.
The journalist had given his phones to his fiancee before entering the consulate.
The newspaper also alleged Saudi officials tried to delete the recordings first by incorrectly guessing Khashoggi’s PIN on the watch, then later using the journalist’s finger.
However, Apple Watches do not have a fingerprint ID unlock function like iPhones. The newspaper did not address that in its report.
An Apple Watch can record audio and can sync that later with an iPhone over a Bluetooth connection.
The newspaper’s account did not elaborate on how the Apple Watch synced that information to both the phone and Khashoggi’s iCloud account.
Turkish officials say they believe a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” killed Khashoggi at the consulate.
They have also alleged that they have video of the killing, but not explained how they have it.
It is also possible that Turkish authorities had bugged the embassy but are using the watch story as cover.
Turkey has yet to publish any evidence of him being killed, though surveillance footage around the consulate shows a convoy of vehicles with diplomatic plates leaving the Saudi Consulate for the consul’s home in Istanbul a little under two hours after Khashoggi’s arrival.
Saudi Arabia has said it had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance, without explaining or offering evidence of how the writer left the consulate and disappeared into Istanbul with his fiancee waiting outside.
A Saudi-owned satellite news channel has begun referring to the 15-man team as “tourists”, without providing evidence to support the claim.
Early on Saturday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency published a statement from Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud again denying the kingdom’s involvement.
This time, however, it acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia was accused of killing Khashoggi.