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Murdered Saudi Rumoured to Have Used Apple Watch App to Record His Own Death
89 points by cpymchn 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments
Several news outlets -- most prominently MSNBC (as of Oct 12 at 10pmEST) -- are reporting that Jamal Khashoggi may have used his Apple Watch in conjunction with an app like Just Press Record in order to capture audio of his own interrogation then have it be uploaded to the cloud. (It has been alleged that Khashoggi was then murdered.)

Turkey's Sabah newspaper first reported the story saying the audio was recorded on the watch but then discovered on Khashoggi's iphone -- that his finance was holding outside the walls of the embassy.

It has been noted that the LTE feature in Apple Watch 4 is not supported by any carriers in Turkey.

AppleInsider has the most uptodate coverage I could find in print:


This seems to be a fake story that the Turkish secret service is making up to obfuscate the fact that they had listening devices planted within the consulate office. The Apple watch can't possibly sync with his iPhone being carried by his fiancee who was probably out of the usual Bluetooth range (30 to 50 ft), there are no LTE support for Apple Watch in Turkey, and highly doubtful that there were public wifi that he could have used.

Can't you roam within your region with Watch 4?

If he was using Watch 4 with LTE and if he bought it, activated it, and paired it to a sim in a European country with LTE support.. the LTE would still work when he left that country to go to Turkey. No?

Khashoggi lived in Virginia so this is still unlikely but I think it is more possible than you make it sound.

I'm not saying this is a definite thing but he's also a journalist of a notable and large publication who is doing international news stories abroad in the Middle East. Would he not be a person interested in tech and savvy ways of obtaining data / recordings / photos / video? I'm not saying that this is something we should believe inherently but something about how sensitive things can be with sources and obtaining the types of datas he'd be interested in while working on the types of stories that got him into the position of fearing for his life turns on a light, for me, that would indicate he was the type of person interested in making his devices capable of doing as much as possible for him. I, like others, am not completely knowledgeable about the Apple Watch nor it's ultimate capabilities so I'll defer to the experts but I'd assume there has to be some way to broadcast it to a device within a few 100 yards?

I could also see it being obfuscation as OP mentioned since it seems those reporting officially on the story from Turkey have been quick to cite evidence without showing any proof. It's very interesting all around and I've got my eyes peeled on this story.

Assuming he had WiFi, does anyone know if this SOS feature works in Turkey? https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206983

Also of note (this is not confirmed, just something I read elsewhere online provided by an Apple aficionado):


"While Apple does not currently explicitly list Turkey as a supported country, many users report being able to use their watch while roaming in non-supported countries.

Turkey’s carriers use the 900, 1800 and 2600 MHz LTE bands and the 2100 MHz UTMS band. All of these bands work with the Apple Watch 3 models A1889 and A1891. If roaming works on their iPhone, it would likely work on their watch unless Apple has explicitly disabled the watch itself from doing so (I’ve seen no indication they do this, and user reports to the contrary in fact). LTE is LTE after all and doesn’t care what your device is provided it conforms with the standard.

Another possibility is that Khashoggi simply made a phone call from the watch which was recorded by the other party. This removes the dependency on a data connection altogether.

What makes more sense here? That Turkey has decided to effectively admit to widespread bugging of the SA embassy (and likely all embassies for that matter)? Or that they were provided a copy of audio by Khashoggi’s fiancée? It’s far from certain, but ruling out the most likely scenario based on a support article alone seems hasty."


Food for thought.

Apple Watch doesn’t support roaming even on officially supported providers.

I’m on EE (T-Mobile and Orange consortium in the UK) which means when I roam in the EU it connects to T-Mobile and Orange which support the watch in their local countries but the roaming doesn’t work.

Also with LTE there is no sync with the phone the sync won’t work unless you are connected to WiFi it doesn’t use BT afaik it uses airdrop.

The airdrop is also anecdotally supported by the fact that my company has disabled airdrop recently when they rolled out DEP to all work issued phones since then I can’t sync the watch with my company phone.

No, you cant LTE roam with watch 4. Thats the reason I bought the regular watch 4.

Same w my pal in Ireland.

If he has signed into hotel WiFi and his fiancée was within range of that, the phone and watch would remained connected over the WiFi network.

WRT claims that they used his fingerprint to unlock the watch, that isn’t supported, but if it were within range of a paired phone and put on a wrist, it would unlock when the phone is unlocked, potentially via Touch ID.

Edit: If I were to speculate (which is all any of us can do) I would guess that the latter is how they got access to the watch, and he and his fiancé had a family iCloud account, which the files automatically uploaded to via his phone.

Unless I’m missing a setting, the watch doesn’t unlock without a pin. It locks when it loses contact with the wrist.

Also, are you suggesting WiFi from the hotel covered not only the front of but the depths of the embassy?

The setting is in the Watch app. It’s Passcode > Unlock with iPhone. It used to be pretty hit or miss, but with the new OSes it’s worked really consistently.

And I’m not really suggesting anything about the WiFi. I know remarkably little about the network infrastructure in foreign hotels and embassies. Just that there are mechanism in iOS that could feasibly make this possible, rather than immediately jumping to a Turkish surveillance cover up.

You know, Occam’s razor and all that jazz.

I agree it’s likely the office is bugged. But a pocket WiFi device the watch has previously connected to is a perfectly plausible way for him to have had Internet access.

Wouldn’t that type of device have been taken off him at first search?

i thought it was an open secret these embassies and other state sanctioned properties on foreign lands are pretty much fronts for HUMINT and SIGINT.

It looks like SIGKILL too, now.

Wouldn’t the Apple Watch just fallback to whatever connectivity it can get? 3G, Edge, etc.

No carrier in Turkey supports the Apple watch.

What’s the chip in the Apple Watch? Most of the new low power LTE devices have 2G fallback

it could be synced when they were taking issue his body passing around fiancee waiting for him, that would he distance within Bluetooth reach

also do they even need cloud, can't be content of watch synced over Bluetooth? if she had access to his phone (which would make sense to not keep phone locked from her) it would make this theory plausible

though of course bugging embassy it's much more realistic and simpler


Or maybe there were listening devices in the embassy that captured the evidence and Turkey is seeking a plausible explanation for how the audio evidence was captured.

This sounds a lot like Parallel Construction:


I wonder if she was able to see his heart rate while he was being murdered. That some grim dark dystopian future stuff right there.

Pulse-data from fitbits have been used in crime-detection in the (recent) past. For example:


I find it hard to believe such iphone/icloud evidence accessible to his fiance wouldn't already be broadcast all over the internet for all to see if it existed.

I do however find it easy to believe the place was bugged and Turkish authorities may be averse to distributing such recordings demonstrating it as fact.

Another possibility is that once you have the damning evidence you question the people involved to see how badly they will lie. Police do this all the time.

The Suadis have already gone on the record with their own version of events.

The time is now for everyone to see the incontrovertible evidence while it still has the world's attention.

That we still haven't seen it is rather suspect.

MBS seems like the new Saddam. Funny that all these Middle Eastern rulers follow the same pattern of tyrannical rule and are undone by it when they are eventually taken down tyrannically by much bigger tyrants... supposedly for freedom but mostly for profit.

I would offer my opinion here that it has absolutey nothing to do with any genetic or ethnic traits belonging to Arabs or people from the Middle East.

Rather I would say that when power is in the hands of select few individuals who are supported militarily and financially (aka politically) by other rich and powerful entities (e,g the USA), those individuals just behave like despots.

It seems to be human nature more often than not to behave like this, under these specific circumstances.

The usual explanation is that resource-extraction-dependent societies have an entirely different set of incentives from productivity-dependent societies. Whoever sits at the top of an industrial economy needs to invest in human capital and high-quality institutions to keep the tax revenue flowing. Whoever sits at the top of an oil economy only needs to keep its population out of the way of drilling operations.

I can see where you are coming from, but I don't think it's limited specifically to just resource dependent economies. I would argue it's much more meta than that.

A lot of things in life boil down to "pleasing the person above you so you get support". At work, many employees will spend more time scoring points with the manager, rather than thinking of new and innovative ways to grow revenue and profit.

I think you can see this manifest itself in the ways the humans behave politically. "How do I say the right things so that I can get elected/get paid" seems to be the relevant question here rather than "What is the ethical, rational, and equitable thing to do?"

I’d argue that selflessly doing the right thing never really happens at scale. Instead what we have are structures that align incentives. In a capitalist democracy, hard to get rich without providing value, and hard to get powerful without earning votes.

But we’re venturing dangerously close to rehashing political philosophy from the ground up.

Obviously it's not a 'genetic' thing, but I wouldn't doubt for a bit that the cultural issues are at play here. Everything is different there, tribal, cultural alliances, populism, and of course the massive undercurrent of anger among the mainstreet of every one of these countries due to mass corruption and cronyism.

Relevant anecdote: literally yesterday I was at my local Lebanese corner store and the patron was watching a video his friend had sent. It was of young guys shooting off AKs and RPGs in 'celebratory mourning' (if you can call it that) of the local 'regional fiefdom leader' who controls an area of Lebanon. I asked the shop owner what would happen if the police tried to stop them, he indicated that they'd just shoot the cops. Or at them. This is not some 'mafia' head that died, not the best way to put it, rather, just a 'family' that controls that region. Not political, not really religious either. Just kind of a fiefdom. These people had very powerful weapons including vehicle mounted weapons. To my Lebanese friend it was 'just stuff that happens there'. Obviously, this is probably specific to Lebanon, but it's barely the tip of the iceberg of culturally ingrained phenom that happens over there in the ME.

The ME has a totally different set of rules for everything, including what constitutes the 'truth' what is socially acceptable etc. etc. etc.. Good example is authority: if everyone you ever meet who wears a uniform, or represents the state is trying to control you, stop you, kidnap you, if you know dozens of people brought in abused by authorities ... then there is no 'legitimacy' in institutions or authority. Despite our problems, in the West, government representatives like police, fire, ambulance etc. have overwhelming respect and real legitimacy - they are (more or less) enacting the law - not arresting you because some guy on city council wants you roughed up. So imagine living in a world absent any real role models of legitimate authority, it would be basically impossible not to be cynical on a very deep level, and very difficult to try to be 'the good man' among absolute corruption.

I was going to say 'there is no social contract' but more fairly I would say ... 'they have a different social contract' than we do. One that we would deem problematic.

This is partly why the Saudi Government can just go in and kill someone willy nilly and face almost nothing in terms of repercussions.

Obviously, we have our own problems, and sub-Saharan Africa has their problems, in E. Asia it's a different set of problems, but they are different in nature.

Obviously, a point about 'resource based economies' is valid to some extent, but I think it's very secondary. Canada, Norway and Australia to name a few are also 'resource based', i.e. "Whoever sits at the top of an oil economy only needs to keep its population out of the way of drilling operations." ... well Alberta is an Oil economy and they don't have that problem.

The ME is really different and my experience there is that most of the dynamics are cultural, obviously driven in part by 'resources' and past interventions etc., but really, it's mostly comparing Apples to Oranges to Pomegranates.

>"[local powerful family shoots guns to celebrate, police let them do it because that family runs the region, OP hypothesizes it is a 'cultural thing']"

I don't know if it's cultural in the sense of "the collective members of our society feel it is customary to have a BBQ on July 4th", but I think even the USA has similar power dynamics.

For example, a lot of our cops in the USA can get away with speeding, with being rude, with giving out harsh tickets for relatively harmless offenses. It happens because a certain few individuals control the power centers of American society, and they are unopposed.

It's not that Americans have a cultural belief in praising or supporting or tolerating this kind of behavior. It's that 99.99999% of Americans have no power to change it.

So, like, in summary:

Cultural thing = Middle Easterners like couscous and shawarma and Adnan music.

Despotic, autocratic thing = For some reason, world governments allow Saudi princes to kill journalists, and no Saudi or Arab can stop this from happening.

Sort of like the ceos of technology companies.

>Funny that all these Middle Eastern rulers follow the same pattern of tyrannical rule and are undone by it when they are eventually taken down tyrannically by much bigger tyrants

You mean Funny that all these Middle Eastern rulers are propped up by the West and only replaced when its politically expedient.

Name one ruler/dictator of any background that didn't do this. It has more to do with the power structure and our innate inclinations than any geography, nationality or era in history.

Obama? Eisenhower?

Obama started drone strikes.

I understand the strong reaction of many to drone strikes. That being said: drone strikes != "tyrannical rule".

I think the OC was more about non-democracies

How was this posted to HN? I thought users could either submit a link with no commentary, or submit an Ask HN.

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