Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Saudi prince behind Khashoggi murder: Ex-MI6 chief

Khashoggi died in fight at consulate, admits Saudi Arabia Rep. Coffman demands ‘immediate recall’ of acting U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Ellis Copeland | 20 October, 2018, 10:56

- President Donald Trump on Friday called Saudi Arabia's announcement that suspects are in custody in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a "good first step" and said he would work with Congress on a US response.

After praising lawmakers - including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC, who has sharply criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the episode - Trump said he is "going to have very much Congress involved" in determining the U.S. response.

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.

Saudi TV said King Salman had ordered the dismissal of senior royal court advisor Saud al-Qahtani, believed to be close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the deputy head of intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri.

"Now the same government that lied to the world, claiming for weeks that it had no knowledge of Khashoggi's fate, expects us to believe he died in a fight", said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. The statement also did not shed any light on what happened to Khashoggi's body after his death. He dispatched U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week to both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to speak to officials on the case.

Khashoggi went missing on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage.

"Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, they've been a tremendous investor in the United States", Trump said, adding, "That's why this is so sad".

However, others have expressed scepticism about Saudi Arabia's claims, including some from Mr Trump's own party.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Trump ally, said he doubted the latest admission from Saudi authorities.

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The statement was the first official confirmation of Khashoggi's death in Turkey 18 days ago, and the first acknowledgment by Saudi Arabia of its role in it. Nearly simultaneously, King Salman issued royal orders removing Saud al-Qahtani - a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - from his position.

"To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr Khashoggi is an understatement", he tweeted.

Khashoggi (pictured above center) was a Saudi citizen but worked for the newspaper with a temporary US residency card.

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

An undisclosed number consulate employees in Istanbul were interviewed by prosecutors, the semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported, a day after Turkish authorities began combing through wooded areas outside Istanbul in an apparent search for Khashoggi's remains.

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

On Wednesday, the Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, citing what it described as an audio recording of Khashoggi's slaying, said the squad immediately accosted the journalist after he entered the consulate, cutting off his fingers and later decapitating him.

"If "initial investigations" found that he died, why did Saudi claim he left the consulate; this new claim is nearly Stalinist in its unbelievability, even if many people will parrot this as the truth for their own interests", Page wrote on Twitter.

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