Saudi explanation for journalist's death is 'credible'

Sergio Conner
October 20, 2018

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

The White House on Friday slammed Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, he claimed that President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may have orchestrated the brutal killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi - a claim he walked back later.

"We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr Khashoggi's death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends".

Asked Friday if he found the Saudi explanation for Khashoggi's death "credible", Trump responded: "I do, I do", The Associated Press reported, though others were skeptical.

The Colorado lawmaker, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, urged Trump to immediately recall the acting USA ambassador from Saudi Arabia.

The White House said it acknowledged the latest announcement and reasserted its call "for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process".

This, the statement added, "resulted in the formation of the Joint Investigation Team between the Kingdom and the Republic of Turkey and the permission to the Turkish authorities to enter the premisses [sic] of the Consulate of the Kingdom in Istanbul and the residence of the consul, for the Kingdom keenness to know all the facts".

The disappearance of Khashoggi has provoked global criticism of Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and convulsed the kingdom as it struggles to respond to increasing worldwide pressure to explain the journalist's fate.

In Istanbul, Turkish prosecutors investigating Khashoggi's disappearance questioned Turkish employees of the Saudi consulate on Friday, widening the hunt for clues in a case straining Riyadh's alliance with Western powers.

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An announcement carried on Saudi state TV said discussions between Khashoggi and officials at the consulate quickly turned violent, and ended in his death.

Turkish officials have claimed that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi's disappearance.

If US president Donald Trump's Republican administration do not hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Mr Khashoggi's death, congress would, he added.

His disappearance had been shrouded in mystery and triggered an global crisis, with Turkish officials accusing Saudi Arabia of a state-sponsored killing.

"I think President Trump and his ministerial team are waking up to just how risky it is to have people acting with a sense that they have impunity in their relationship with the United States", Sawers said.

"Dismissing Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmad al-Assiri is as close to MBS as it is possible to go", said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute in the United States.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir John Sawers said the theory that rogue elements in the Saudi military were responsible was "blatant fiction".

On Thursday, a leaked surveillance photo put Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed's entourage on trips to the U.S., France and Spain this year, at the consulate just ahead of Khashoggi's arrival.

Saudi Arabia will now begin a full investigation of the incident, with a deadline of one month to produce a report.

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