A missing Saudi journalist may have recorded the moments he was allegedly tortured and killed on his Apple Watch, a Turkish newspaper reported.

Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, went missing more than a week ago after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkish officials have said they believe the 59-year-old was murdered there by a 15-member Saudi “assassination squad”.

“The moments when Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and murdered were recorded in the Apple Watch’s memory,” Turkish newspaper Sabah reported.

The pro-government, privately owned daily, said the watch had synced with his iPhone, which he had left with his wife outside the consulate.

Two senior Turkish officials previously told Reuters that Mr Khashoggi had been wearing a black Apple Watch when he entered the consulate, and said it was connected to a mobile phone he left outside.

Footage shows the writer entering the consulate on Tuesday of last week, but there is none showing him leaving.

Sabah, which cited “reliable sources in a special intelligence department”, said Mr Khashoggi was believed to have turned on the recording feature on the phone before entering the consulate.

The paper said Saudi intelligence agents had realised after he died that the watch was recording and initially tried to gain access by guessing Mr Khashoggi’s PIN, then using his finger to unlock it and delete some files, but not all of them. 

However, unlike iPhones, Apple Watches do not have fingerprint identification – something the newspaper did not address in its report.

It said the recordings were subsequently recovered from his iPhone and iCloud account.

The watch can record audio which can sync with an iPhone over a Bluetooth connection, though is it unclear whether data from Mr Khashoggi’s watch could have been transmitted to his phone outside – or how investigators could have retrieved the data without obtaining the watch itself.

It comes after US intelligence officials told The Washington Post they had been presented with video and audio recordings of the murder.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” The Post quoted a source as saying. “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

While it is unclear whether the alleged audio recordings came from Mr Khashoggi’s watch, it remains possible the Turkish intelligence service obtained them by bugging the Saudi consulate and used the Apple Watch as a cover story to avoid revealing their espionage.

“Spy agencies’ main goal when foreign embassies are built is to slip in as many devices as possible without detection,” Theodore Karasik, of Gulf State Analytics, a research and security consultancy, told The Independent. “It is a common practice.”

Saudi Arabia’s interior minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, has condemned the “lies and baseless allegations” against the kingdom, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Donald Trump has declared the US will uncover the truth about what happened to Mr Khashoggi, who was a US resident.

The US president promised to personally call Saudi Arabia’s king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, about “the terrible situation in Turkey”.

“We’re going to find out what happened,” Mr Trump pledged on Friday when he was questioned by reporters in Cincinnati, where he was headlining a political rally. 

Mr Khashoggi had reportedly been banned from writing in newspapers, making TV appearances and attending conferences in Saudi Arabia after criticising Mr Trump when he was president-elect.

On Friday, a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived as part of the investigation into the writer’s disappearance. The Turkish foreign ministry said the Saudi consulate in Istanbul would be searched as part of the investigation. 

Additional reporting by agencies



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