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Saudi considers admitting Khashoggi died in botched op

16 October, 2018, 14:10 | Author: Sara Gill
  • Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi

In Washington, President Donald Trump echoed the possibility that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of "rogue killers".

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and USA resident who became increasingly critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has not been seen since he walked into the Istanbul consulate to sort out marriage paperwork on October 2.

Saudi officials had reportedly resisted allowing Turkish police into the consulate after learning that investigators planned to use Luminol, a forensic chemical that reveals bloodstains even if they have been washed clean.

The family of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday called for an worldwide investigation into the circumstances of his disappearance.

"We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago", they said.

"The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial global commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death", his family said.

Cleaning personnel wait to enter Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul.

While the search was being carried out on Tuesday, CNN and the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to acknowledge Khashoggi's death in a botched interrogation. Saudi officials previously have called the allegations "baseless", but reports in USA media on Tuesday suggested the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed there.

"The denial was very, very strong", Trump later told reporters at the White House.

Saudi Arabia is considering an admission that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, USA media reported on Monday.

The former newspaper editor once interviewed Osama bin Laden and later became a consummate insider, advising former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal when he served as ambassador in London and Washington.

The case has provoked an worldwide outcry against the world's top oil exporter, with media and business executives pulling out of an investment conference next week.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada are already strained after Ms. Freeland publicly urged Riyadh to immediately release activists from prison this past summer.


Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and claimed that he left the consulate, though it provided no evidence.

A photo taken from security video broadcast by Turkish network TRT World purportedly shows Saudi nationals passing through security a checkpoint at an Istanbul airport early on the morning of October 2, 2018, with a caption reading: "Nine of the individuals entering airport from Terminal Gate E at 0337 am". They provided no further details. The president said the king denied any knowledge of what had happened to Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had been critical of the crown prince. "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

The U.S. president gave no evidence to support the theory.

Those sceptical about Saudi Arabia criticised Mr Trump for invoking the "rogue killers" theory, suggesting that he was falling for a Saudi ploy.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, left Washington last week, returned to Riyadh and will not be returning, a current and a former USA official said Monday. "Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the President of the United States as their PR agent to float it".

Mr. Trump said he sent Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to get answers from the Saudi royals.

"He may go to Turkey".

"The Turkish crime scene investigators carried out searches in the consulate and took the things deemed necessary", a senior Turkish official said, acknowledging the difficulty of collecting evidence 13 days after the alleged incident.

Trump has threatened "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, but ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. "Those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi must be held to account".

Mr Khashoggi, a familiar face on Arab talk shows, moved to the United States previous year fearing retribution for criticism of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent.

Turkish officials say they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Istanbul consulate.

The Saudi consulate referred Reuters to authorities in Riyadh, who did not respond to questions about the 15 Saudis. Saudi stock index was down 3 percent in early Tuesday trade before it recouped some losses for a decline of 0.5 percent by 0949 GMT.

But US media reported on Monday that the kingdom is considering an admission that Khashoggi died after an interrogation that went wrong during an intended abduction.

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