United States ramps up pressure on Saudis over missing journalist

11 October, 2018, 22:58 | Author: Christina Harvey
  • Security guards stand outside the Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul

He has said Saudi Arabia must prove its version of events but so far has stopped short of directly accusing the kingdom or laying the blame on the powerful crown prince.

A human rights activist holds picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 9, 2018. After a positive first meeting with consular staff, who welcomed him warmly and assured him that the necessary paperwork would come through, Jamal was hardly concerned ahead of his second visit. Turkish authorities have said he was killed by members of an elite Saudi "assassination squad", an allegation the Saudi government has dismissed.

President Donald Trump has also weighed in, calling the incident "a very serious situation for us and this White House".

I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.

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

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which ranks the kingdom 169th out of 180 on its World Press Freedom Index, said in a statement that between 25 and 30 professional and non-professional journalists are now detained in Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia past year saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Riyadh over the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent, and since then wrote columns for the Washington Post. "And we're going to get to the bottom of it", Trump said.

The source stated that "a security delegation composed of Saudi investigators arrived on Saturday to Istanbul at the request of the Saudi side and the consent of the Turkish side to participate in the investigations of the disappearance of the Saudi citizen".

Mr Trump, who took his first overseas trip as USA president to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said he had not yet talked to the Saudis about Khashoggi.

A source told the Washington Post that United States intelligence "intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him". "And the reports that a Saudi Arabian journalist may have been tragically murdered in Turkey should be deeply concerning to everyone who cherishes a freedom of the press and human rights across the globe".

A former senior intelligence official who did not want to be named told The Washington Post: "Capturing him, which could have been interpreted as arresting him, would not have triggered a duty-to-warn obligation".

"I think that would be hurting us", Mr Trump said.

Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the U.S.is continuing to monitor the unfolding investigation in Istanbul, but offered no information about what the crown prince told the USA officials about Khashoggi's disappearance.

News of his disappearance broke out after Khashoggi's Turkish fiancée, who was waiting outside the diplomatic building, called the police.

"At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance".

"We're demanding everything", Trump told reporters.

Turkish officials say they fear Saudi Arabia killed and dismembered Khashoggi, without offering evidence explaining why they believe that.

Turkish spokesman Hami Aksoy said authorities are "open to cooperation" and willing to examine the consulate grounds, though it was not clear when a search would take place.

The move added pressure on close US ally Riyadh to provide more information on the whereabouts of the prominent critic of Saudi policies, whose disappearance has sparked global concern. 'Although my hope slowly fades away each passing day, I remain confident that Jamal is still alive, ' she added.


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