Thursday, 18 October, 2018

US seeks answers about missing journalist from Saudi ally

Turkish daily names Saudis in Khashoggi case, raising pressure on... Saudi Arabia to let Turkey search consulate over missing journalist
Melinda Barton | 11 October, 2018, 09:26

USA intelligence services intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared in Turkey last week.

The White House also said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior officials had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Tuesday and asked for more details about the situation.

NY magazine's Olivia Nuzzi scored the interview of a lifetime Tuesday, when White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders roped her in to the Oval Office for a private press briefing with President Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The planes belonged to a company based in Saudi Arabia which has links to the state.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that the U.S. would continue to inquire about the fate of the journalist. It's a very sad situation. "It's a bad thing".

United States intelligence officials reportedly intercepted communications that the Saudis discussed a plan to lure and capture Khashoggi before his disappearance, a person familiar with the situation said in The Post.

On Wednesday, Corker told reporters that the Senate would "take some action ourselves" over Khashoggi's disappearance.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to the kingdom and detain him, according to a WaPo report citing USA intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials.

Angry lawmakers likely won't prompt the administration to turn away from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Government sources in Turkey said police believe the 59-year-old was killed inside the consulate, claims which Riyadh dismissed as "baseless". Bob Corker, R-Tenn. and top Democrat Bob Menendez of N.J. issued a letter to President Trump, triggering a probe Wednesday under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Saudi Arabia denies involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, and the Trump's administration's response has been far more cautious than that coming from Capitol Hill. The suggestion that this journalist, Mr. Khashoggi, was you know, was murdered should be deeply troubling to everyone that cares as a free and open press around the world. "We can not let this happen, to reporters, to anybody".

RSF, in a statement on its website, highlighted that "more than 15 journalists and bloggers have been arrested in a completely opaque manner in Saudi Arabia since September 2017".

USA officials have demanded his immediate release, a call Ankara has considered as interfering in the judiciary of Turkey as a sovereign country.

The videos show one of two private jets arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport early in the morning on October 2, the date Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate to arrange papers for a marriage.

Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post that she was "confident in the abilities of Turkish government officials".

She called on Trump to "help shed light" on the journalist's disappearance.