Tech facts vs myths: Jamal Khashoggi’s Apple Watch becomes key witness in his murder investigation

Jamal Khashoggi’s Apple Watch is now playing a huge role in the investigation of his disappearance/murder in Istanbul, Turkey.

Earlier this Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the Turkish government was able to access audio recordings that affirm Khashoggi’s death and torture inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

The report was first covered by a “pro-government” newspaper, Sabah. According to the newspaper, “the moments when Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and murdered were recorded in the Apple Watch’s memory,” adding that the watch had synched with his iPhone/iCloud, which his fiancée was carrying outside the embassy.

According to Reuters, “the paper said Saudi intelligence agents had realized after he died that the watch was recording and they used his finger print to unlock it, deleting some files, but not all of them. The recordings were subsequently found on his phone, it said.”

The veracity of Sabah’s report is being questioned since the “pro-government” newspaper has vested interest in sustained diplomatic relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. However, there are a few tech aspects that seem off right from the start.

Here are some of the inconsistencies between the narrative presented by Sabah, and how the tech actually works:

Embassies around the world usually take certain security measures against tech devices. Khashoggi might have removed the watch for security reasons before entering the consulate. Reporter Joyce Karam tweeted that she was asked to remove her Fitbit when she attended an event there last year.

According to experts who spoke to Reuters, a more plausible explanation could be that the audio came from a Turkish bug at the consulate.