The final words of journalist Jamal Khashoggi were “I can’t breathe,” according to a translated transcript of an audio recording of his murder inside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul in October.
A source familiar with the recording revealed the new details of the transcript to CNN over the weekend. According to the source, the sounds of Khashoggi struggling against the alleged Saudi hit squad dispatched to kill him and a saw dismembering his body are audible in the tape. The original tape was obtained by Turkish officials following an investigation into the killing, and also reportedly records a series of phone calls detailing the ongoing events. Turkish officials have said that these phone calls were made to senior figures in Riyadh responsible for ordering the murder.
Khashoggi, a prolific commentator and columnist for the Washington Post, vanished at the consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, when he was attempting to obtain documents for a marriage license. A Saudi national and U.S. resident, Khashoggi was a frequent and vocal critic of the regime in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and had expressed his fears for his safety at the embassy on the eve of his visit.
U.S. intelligence officials concluded in November that bin Salman ordered the killing; a claim the Saudi government swiftly denied. The murder has prompted international outcry and calls for countries around the world to take a tougher stance on the Gulf state. U.S. senators have called for a firmer response from President Trump, who has not forcefully challenged bin Salman or Saudi Arabia over the killing and appeared to dispute the U.S intelligence report. After a briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel on the matter last week, senior senators introduced a bipartisan push for a resolution calling bin Salman “complicit” in Khashoggi’s killing.