Saudi King Salman steps in as Riyadh defends itself in Khashoggi case

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Reports in the USA media suggest that Saudi officials are set to admit that Mr Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation that went wrong, but neither King Salman, or his son and power behind the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed, had ordered Mr Khashoggi's death.

A Saudi team investigating the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has left the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday.

However, he told CBS News on Saturday that the United States was investigating the case which he called "really awful and disgusting" and that "there will be severe punishment".

"Been hearing the ridiculous "rogue killers" theory was where the Saudis would go with this", Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter.

In an interview scheduled to air Sunday, Trump told CBS' "60 Minutes" that Saudi Arabia would face strong consequences if involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.

October 7: Saudi government officials deny involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance after reports that he was killed.

The White House is brushing aside threats by Saudi Arabia that it may economically retaliate for any USA punitive action imposed over the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pledging a "swift, open, transparent investigation" into his disappearance.

Trump added he was "immediately" sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh "to meet with the king" for talks on the crisis.

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Saudi flags, photos of the king and crown prince looking stern, and pro-Saudi hashtags were making the rounds on social media Monday with a common theme: Saudi Arabia and its ruling family are a "red line".

The king also said Turkey and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations and "that no one will get to undermine the strength of this relationship", according to a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Meanwhile, Turkish police yesterday searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for the first time since Khashoggi went missing, as US President Donald Trump floated the idea that "rogue killers" could be to blame for his disappearance. "Who knows? We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon". Surveillance footage from cameras surrounding the consulate showed Khashoggi entering the complex but did not show him leaving.

In August, Freeland sent a tweet condemning Saudi Arabia's decision to jail prominent women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah.

But he left Saudi Arabia roughly a year ago over fears for his safety after writing articles critical of the government, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Permission apparently came after a late Sunday night call between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Khashoggi has been missing since he stepped inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Following Khashoggi's disappearance, a slew of businesses leaders and media companies announced they were pulling out of the Future Investment Initiative economic conference set for next week in Riyadh.

The chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Jamie Dimon, had been a featured speaker at the conference in Riyadh.

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