Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has confirmed that his country’s intelligence has heard an audio recording of the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
He said: “Canada has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share.”
PM Trudeau is the first Western leader to confirm his country has listened to the purported tape of the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
On November 10, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he had given copies to the US, UK, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia.
“We gave them the tapes,” he told reporters before flying to Paris for a gathering of world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.
“They’ve also listened to the conversations, they know it.”
However, the US has not said whether it has received a tape and France’s foreign minister has said it is not in possession of one as far as he is aware.
Saudi Arabia has admitted a team of agents murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic who was living in self-imposed exile in the US and writing for the Washington Post, and it has arrested 18 people allegedly involved.
At a news conference in Paris on November 12, PM Justin Trudeau said Canadian intelligence agencies had been working very closely with Turkey on the murder investigation.
He added: “I had a conversation with Erdogan a couple of weeks ago over the phone. Here in Paris we had brief exchanges and I thanked him for his strength in responding to the Khashoggi situation.”
When asked whether Canada had heard the purported audio recordings, PM Trudeau said “yes”. But he added that he had not listened to them personally.
According to recent reports, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada’s spy service, travelled to Turkey to discuss the investigation and listened to the recording.
The director then briefed PM Trudeau and other Canadian officials on his visit to Turkey.
Justin Trudeau sidestepped a question about whether such evidence would have consequences for Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
“We are in discussions with our like-minded allies as to the next steps with regard Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Justin Trudeau has faced calls to cancel a $13 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia for tanks and armored fighting vehicles built by an Ontario-based unit of the American firm General Dynamics.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada are already strained. In August, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of violating its sovereignty and froze new trade after Canadian officials called for the release of detained civil society and women’s rights activists.
On November 12, Turkey reacted angrily after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian contradicted President Erdogan’s assertion that France had received an audio recording from the consulate and accused the Turkish leader of playing “political games”.
Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 2 television: “The truth isn’t out yet. We want to know the truth, the circumstances of his death and the identity of the culprits. Then we will take the necessary actions.
“If the Turkish president has information to give us, he must give it to us. For now, I don’t know about it.”
Asked if that meant President Erdogan was lying, the foreign minister replied: “It means that he has a political game to play in these circumstances.”
The Turkish presidency’s communications director called the comments “unacceptable” and insisted a representative of French intelligence had listened to the tape on October 24.
Fahrettin Altun told AFP: “If there is miscommunication between the French government’s various agencies, it is up to the French authorities – not Turkey – to take care of that problem.”