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Former U.S. ambassador "95 percent certain" Saudi Arabia killed missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Fmr. U.S. diplomat on Khashoggi disappearance
Former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia "95% certain" Khashoggi was killed 07:38

Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan told CBS News Friday he is "95 percent certain" that Saudi Arabia killed missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

CBS News has confirmed that Turkish officials told the U.S. they have audio and video recordings of Khashoggi's interrogation inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to the Washington Post, those recordings document a Saudi security team killing Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the consulate 10 days ago.

"I have seen no explanation from the Saudis as to how we could see video of Jamal going into the consulate, but not coming out," said Jordan. "Their explanation that their closed circuit TV is only a live feed and not recording makes no sense at all and would be absurd in terms of security tradecraft."

Asked if he had any reason to doubt reports that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, Jordan replied, "I'd say it's about 95 percent certain."

So far President Trump has expressed reluctance to punish the country or scuttle a $110 billion arms deal he signed with the Saudis earlier this year. But both Republicans and Democrats in Congress say Saudi Arabia must be held accountable for any harm to Khashoggi.

"I've been hearing from dissidents and Saudis from around the world who, with Jamal's apparent murder, who are scared," said Washington Post editor Karen Attiah. Khashoggi had been a columnist for the Post.

Jamal Khashoggi's editor: "The whole world is watching" 08:46

She said many believe pressure from the U.S. may be the only way to get answers.

"This is sending a message to the entire world on whether or not we would stand by and let regimes torture and murder journalists. I think with the details that come out, that's how critical this is," Attiah said.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has gained a reputation as reformer in the conservative country, enacting changes like allowing women to drive. But Attiah said Khashoggi told her nothing happened in Saudi Arabia without the crown prince's knowledge and he was likely aware of any plan to capture or kill Khashoggi.

"I think maybe people in the West wanted to believe he was a reformer. I don't necessarily think that he put this label on himself. But it's a heinous crime and it tells us way more about him. They always say when somebody shows you who they are, you should believe them," Attiah said.

"The whole world is watching right now," she added.

Khashoggi was close to the Saudi royal family for years but had become a vocal critic of his government. In a September interview, called Saudi Arabia's foreign policy "narrow minded." He had been living in the U.S. in self-imposed exile after a crackdown on activists. Despite that, Attiah said "he just wanted to write."

"For me, one of the memories that is coming to me is just how he had been kicked out of writing a column for his paper in Saudi Arabia, kicked out of broadcast because he always sort of pushed for reform, and when he came to the Post for the first time, his eyes just lit up. He'd missed being in a newsroom. He was just like, 'Oh yes, I'm ready to work again. I want to be productive again,'" Attiah said.

President Trump said Wednesday the White House is in contact with Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. She has appealed to the president and first lady for help.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia denies involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.

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