Friday, 22 February, 2019

Intel: How Saudi journalist's disappearance is becoming United States election issue

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chairs the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. — SPA Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chairs the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. — SPA
Melinda Barton | 10 October, 2018, 13:47

"I have raised Jamal's disappearance personally with the Saudi ambassador, and while we await more information, know we will respond accordingly to any state that targets journalists overseas", he wrote.

Mr Khashoggi, 59, went missing while on a visit to the consulate in Istanbul for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. Its passengers went straight to the consulate and then left in the evening for Egypt. Riyadh claims he exited through a back door, the Turks are dubious and the search is on for clues.

A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before his disappearance.

Previously the crown prince told Bloomberg that Riyadh would be ready to welcome Turkish officials to search the premises.

Saudi officials said he left shortly afterwards but his fiancee, who was waiting outside, said he never came out. "And hopefully that will sort itself out", Trump said. She also asked the Saudi government to release closed-circuit TV footage from inside the consulate to shed light on what happened to her fiancé.

Flight records show two Saudi planes arrived at Istanbul's Ataturk airport on Tuesday and departed separately that same day, hours after Khashoggi was last seen.

Turkey summoned the Saudi ambassador on Sunday to request the kingdom's "full cooperation" in the investigation, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Demirören News Agency reported on October 9 that one of the planes was searched by Turkish authorities before leaving Turkey for Dubai.

The Foreign Office would face charges of hypocrisy if, after its outrage over the attempted assassination by Russian Federation of the former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, it remained silent over an alleged murder by the Saudi government.

A Turkish official told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity that a team of Saudi agents killed the 59-year-old writer within two hours of his arrival at the consulate, and then dismembered his body with a bone saw they had brought for the objective.

But Erdogan himself has not publicly accused Saudi Arabia of killing Khashoggi.

"We have seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi", Pompeo said in an October 8 statement.

The Trump administration had been largely silent on the matter until Monday, when President Donald Trump said he was "concerned" about it in response to a question from a reporter.

"We are aware of the latest reports and are working urgently to establish the facts, including with the government of Saudi Arabia", the representative said. According to his fiancée, who accompanied him and waited outside, he entered the building at 1:30 pm and failed to emerge when the office closed at 5 pm.

Trump said earlier on Tuesday he plans to speak with the Saudis without elaborating.

"We call for cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and to make the findings public", United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing.

A former editor of the al-Watan newspaper and a short-lived Saudi TV news channel, Mr Khashoggi was for years seen as close to the Saudi royal family. "We expect a thorough investigation and total transparency from the Saudi authorities on what happened", European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters in Lisbon.