CNN aired surveillance footage showing a body double appearing to wear the clothing of murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi exiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shortly after Khashoggi’s death.
Turkish officials point to this as further evidence the murder had been planned; Saudi royal family said Friday Khashoggi died in an accident during a scuffle inside the consulate.
The footage shows a man identified as Mustafa al-Madani coming to the consulate before Khashoggi’s scheduled appointment (the journalist was intending to get papers for his upcoming marriage). Madani is alleged to be part of the 15-man hit squad who came to the consulate to kill the WaPo columnist.
The same man is seen on the video shortly after Khashoggi died, dressed in what looks to be the journalist’s shirt, blazer, slacks and glasses. He also has sprouted a fake beard to make him look more like Khashoggi.
Khashoggi’s fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate’s front door. The body double left by the back door, bolstering the Saudi royal family’s original claim Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed.
Khashoggi’s doppelganger and a Saudi hit-squad companion are seen taking a taxi to a local tourist attraction where they enter a men’s bathroom; he emerges wearing his own clothes again. After stopping at a nearby restaurant, the two men dump a plastic bag in a dumpster, which, CNN reports citing an unnamed Turkish source, is “likely” to have contained Khashoggi’s clothing.
Saudi authorities would not confirm or deny the existence of the body double, but continue to insist the killing was unintentional, CNN reported. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan is scheduled to hold a presser on Tuesday to reveal the “naked truth” of what happened to Khashoggi in the consulate.
Over the weekend, President Donald Trump modulated his initial accepting response to Saudi royal family’s Friday night version of what happened after the claims were met with widespread bipartisan eye-rolling in the United States.
“I would love if he wasn’t responsible,” Trump told The Washington Post on Saturday of Saudi prince MBS.
Trump called MBS a “very important ally” for the U.S. “especially when you have Iran doing so many bad things in the world,” adding, “Iran, they’re as evil as it gets.”