Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Donald Trump ‘demanding’ answers from Saudis on journalist’s disappearance

Saudi Arabia to let Turkey search consulate over missing journalist Lindsey Graham warns there will be 'hell to pay' if Saudi Arabia killed missing journalist Khashoggi
Deanna Wagner | 21 October, 2018, 16:40

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, sought to lure missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Corker tells The Associated Press that information he has reviewed suggests that Jamal Khashoggi was killed on October 2, the day he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A pro-government Turkish newspaper published an account of a team of Saudis who flew to Istambul around the time of the disappearance.

He added that he spoke with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation", but he did not disclose details. He said withholding sales would hurt the USA economy.

The Magnitsky Act is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison after he reported tax fraud involving government officials.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker says he has reviewed USA intelligence reports suggesting that Khashoggi was killed October 2, the day he went to the consulate.

The Sabah newspaper, which is close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published images of what it referred to as an "assassination squad" apparently taken at passport control.

The footage allegedly shows the men arriving at the airport and checking into a hotel, as well as a van arriving at the consul-general's residence, about 250 metres away from the consulate, two hours after Khashoggi entered the consulate.

About two hours later, Aksam showed two vehicles, one of them a black Mercedes Vito van with tinted windows and diplomatic plates, leaving the consulate and entering the auto park of the residence shortly afterwards. No footage has emerged of Khashoggi leaving the consulate.

As the Times notes, officials in Turkey "have left things murky enough" by "speaking on condition of anonymity and refusing to publicly disclose their evidence", which means that much of the reporting remains unverified and the lack of concrete evidence at this point leaves room for the possibility that Khashoggi was abducted from the consulate, but not killed.

Saudi Arabia has dismissed as baseless accusations that it killed or abducted Khashoggi.

Khaled Saffuri, a close friend of Khashoggi for more than two decades and cofounder of the Islamic Free Market Institute, said a senior adviser to the crown prince contacted Khashoggi in June and offered the journalist safe passage home should he choose to return.

U.S. 'saddened' Saudi journalist dead, no mention of action
US President Donald Trump said he found the Saudi explanation credible and it was a "very important first step". You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened", he said.

The Associated Press could not confirm that report, but a US -based friend of Khashoggi said the journalist had told him he had received a call from an adviser to the Saudi royal court in late May or early June urging him to return to his homeland.

Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director for Amnesty International, said if the reports of Khashoggi's death are true, this "would be taking yet to another level the continuing crackdown on any form of dissent that's been going on in Saudi Arabia over the past year". The station did not cite a source for its report.

Activists, members of the Human Rights Association Istanbul branch, holding posters with photos of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, talk to members of the media, during a protest in his support near the Saudi Ara.

Police and investigators in Turkey typically release video and information through state-run or otherwise government-friendly media outlets, as opposed to holding briefings like those common in Western nations.

Meanwhile, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.

Security guards stand outside the Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.

United Kingdom foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has explicitly tied the importance of human rights to alliances, tweeting on Tuesday that if media reports about Khashoggi "prove correct, we will treat the incident seriously - friendships depend on shared values".

Khashoggi had sought to become a US citizen after living in self-imposed exile since past year, fearing repercussions for his criticism of the prince, Cengiz wrote.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow up call with the Crown Prince to reiterate the United States request for information", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry announced that Turkish authorities were to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but did not specify when.

"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems?"