Saudi officials admit they brought a body double for Khashoggi, but say it was for kidnapping him, not murder

Saudi officials admit they brought a body double for Khashoggi, but say it was for kidnapping him, not murder


CCTV/Hurriyet via AP; CNN

Surveillance footage of Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and what appears to be a body double wearing Khashoggi's clothes around the city.

  • Leaked surveillance footage last week showed a body double wearing Jamal Khashoggi's clothes outside the Istanbul consulate where he died.
  • It was an apparent effort to trick people into thinking Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed.
  • Two Saudi officials admitted to the Associated Press that Saudi agents brought in a body double to pose as Khashoggi.
  • They said that the agents planned to detain Khashoggi and take him somewhere else for interrogation, not to kill him.
  • They also offered a confusing rationale for why a forensics expert had been brought to the consulate.
  • It comes a day after Turkey said that Khashoggi's death was a pre-planned and deliberate murder, which Saudi officials have sought to deny.

Saudi officials have admitted that they brought in a body double to pose as journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but claimed it was part of a plan to kidnap rather than to kill him.

The double, wearing Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses, was filmed leaving the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi was killed.

Officials initially did not address the existence of the double, which appeared to support claims that Saudi Arabia intended to assassinate Khashoggi then cover it up.

But Saudi sources, speaking anonymously to the Associated Press on Tuesday, claimed that the body double was not part of a murder plot, but instead was designed to cover up a kidnapping.


Jamal Khashoggi

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

People protesting Khashoggi's disappearance outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul days after he was reported missing.

From AP's report:

"They acknowledged the plan allowed for removing Khashoggi from the consulate and questioning him at a 'safe house.'

"Asked why such a team would include a forensics expert and a body double, the Saudi officials said had the safe house option been used, the plan was for the forensic expert to wipe clean evidence that Khashoggi had been at the consulate and for the body double to leave the facility to give the false impression that Khashoggi had left on his own.

"Instead, the two officials said, the operation with Khashoggi turned violent. They said that the team included a former Khashoggi colleague who advised him to return to the kingdom. When that failed, the writer, by their account, asked if he was going to be kidnapped.


"Told he was going to be taken to a safe house, they say he started to yell for help. That's when an unidentified person on the team applied a chokehold, which the officials said was intended only to keep Khashoggi quiet but ended up killing him instead."

It's not clear why the agents wanted to wipe clean evidence of Khashoggi's presence at the consulate, if they wanted to claim that Khashoggi entered the compound and left on his own.

jamal khashoggi enter saudi embassy

CCTV/Hurriyet via AP

Surveillance footage published by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet purports to show Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The two Saudi officials also told the Associated Press that nine members of the 15-man team inside the consulate panicked after Khashoggi died, and rolled up the body in some type of fabric.

The men then gave the wrapped-up body to a local Turkish person, who took it away from the consulate, the Saudi officials said.


The officials' claim on Tuesday that Khashoggi died in a chokehold is also at odds with the kingdom's claim last Saturday that the journalist died in a "fistfight."

Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, also told Fox News on Sunday that Khashoggi's death was the result of a rogue operation unknown to the Saudi crown prince and intelligence agencies.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the Saudi "cover-up one of the worst in the history of cover-ups."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body after weeks of orchestrated Turkish intelligence leaks claiming that Khashoggi was dismembered.