The Slatest

Transcript Reveals Jamal Khashoggi’s Last Words: “I Can’t Breathe”

Images of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi are seen on a big screen during a commemorative ceremony held on November 11, 2018 in Istanbul Turkey.
Images of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi are seen on a big screen during a commemorative ceremony held on November 11, 2018 in Istanbul Turkey.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A source who has seen the full transcript of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul described several key details to CNN, and they’re just as horrifying as you’d expect. Although many details of the transcript had been reported, CNN reveals a full account of what the transcript, which was prepared by Turkish intelligence services, reveals with the help of its source.

The transcript makes clear Khashoggi knew something was amiss as soon as he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Khashoggi, who was supposed to pick up papers he needed for his wedding, quickly recognizes one of the men who is at the consulate and asks him what he was doing there. “You are coming back,” the man says. After a short protest from Khashoggi, the transcript says several people approach Khashoggi and soon after the journalist is struggling to breathe. “I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi repeats several times. That seems to dismiss the idea that Khashoggi’s killing involved an accidental choking considering his claims that he could not breathe were clearly audible.

The transcript then goes on to note several noises that can be heard, including screams from Khashoggi and the sound of his body being dismembered by a saw. One of the men in the room at one point even gives advice to the others, telling them to “put your earphones in, or listen to music like me” so they can drown out the horrible noise.

Another key point of the transcript is that one of the men placed at least three phone calls. The transcript suggests the calls are an update on what was going on. “Tell yours, the thing is done, it’s done,” the man says at one point. The calls do not seem panicked or worried at all, again throwing cold water on claims that the killing was part of an operation that went wrong. “The caller appears simply to be informing someone of what is going on,” CNN writes. “Hardly, the source says, the actions of a panicked ringleader, but more the description of a situation going entirely according to plan.”

The details of the transcript were revealed shortly after the New York Times published a piece detailing how Jared Kushner gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman advice after the killing of Khashoggi. Kushner “has offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments,” details the Times. That advice came after a concerted effort by the Saudis to court Kushner and cultivate a relationship with him that has served them well as the president’s son-in-law has become Prince Mohammed’s biggest defender in the White House.