Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Saudi Arabia's position in the Khashoggi investigation - Saadet Oruç

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo center walks to a plane before leaving Riyadh Saudi Arabia Wednesday Oct. 17 2018. (Leah Millis  Pool U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo center walks to a plane before leaving Riyadh Saudi Arabia Wednesday Oct. 17 2018. (Leah Millis Pool
Nellie Chapman | 17 October, 2018, 17:10

Permission apparently came after a late Sunday night call between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

One source cautioned that the report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said.

Turkey says it believes he was killed inside, telling USA officials it has audio and video recordings from his final moments to prove it. Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied having anything to do with his disappearance.

He has written critically of the Saudi regime, and after entering that country's consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago, he hasn't been seen since.

However, no major decision is made outside of the ultraconservative kingdom's ruling Al Saud family.

The controversy has troubled Saudi's traditional Western allies-who are key arms suppliers to the kingdom-and also undermined efforts by Mohammed bin Salman to present himself as a modernising ruler.

Iran has been playing it cool as it watches the furore over the disappearance of writer Jamal Khashoggi create a crisis for its regional rival Saudi Arabia.

In August, Saudi Arabia reacted strongly to a tweet from Freeland calling for the immediate release of detained activists, including Samar Badawi, a champion of women's rights and the sister of detained blogger Raif Badawi.

The Saudi consulate referred Reuters to authorities in Riyadh, who did not respond to questions about the 15 Saudis.

Saudi Arabia's consul general to Istanbul, Mohammed al Otaibi, reportedly left Turkey for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on a scheduled flight.

"In each of those meetings I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi".

Trump meanwhile refused to accuse Saudi Arabia over the case, drawing a parallel with the case of new US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh who had faced a swirl of allegations of sexual assault.

"With that being said, the king firmly denies any knowledge of it", Trump told reporters outside the White House.

Turkish authorities claim they have video and audio recordings indicating Khashoggi was first interrogated in the consulate, then tortured and murdered.

"This guy's gotta go", he said on Tuesday morning on Fox News, describing Prince Mohammed as a "wrecking ball".

While Pompeo was in his meetings in Saudi Arabia, Trump, in Washington, said on Twitter, "For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russian Federation, for that matter)". What evidence Turkish officials could gather at the consulate remained unknown.

A second search, cancelled on Tuesday because Saudi officials were not able to join, is expected to happen later on Wednesday. The search, however, did not happen overnight and reasons for that weren't immediately clear.

The foreign minister added that Turkey has given the prosecutor permission to ask for the testimony of people at the Saudi consulate who it deems is related to the investigation into the disappearance. That convention covers diplomatic immunity, as well as the idea that embassies and consulates sit on foreign soil in their host countries.

Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, vanished on 2 October during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump spoke after a personal 20-minute phone call with Saudi King Salman and as the president dispatched his secretary of state to Riyadh for a face-to-face discussion with the king. The U.S. president has been after King Salman and OPEC to boost production to drive down high oil prices, caused in part by the coming re-imposition of oil sanctions on Iran.

But the Saudis have faced intense criticism over the Khashoggi incident, which comes just after USA senators almost succeeded in cutting off support for Riyadh's air campaign against rebels in Yemen, which a United Nations report says has killed thousands of civilians.

That could, like Trump's softening comments, seek to give the kingdom a way out of the global firestorm of criticism over Khashoggi's fate.