Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul “unacceptable.” (Oct. 21)
Saudi King Salman and Prince Mohammed have called the son of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi to express condolences for the death of his father, the Saudi Press Agency said Monday.
Salah Khashoggi spoke with the Saudi leaders separately and “expressed his sincere thanks” for their condolences, the agency said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir called Khashoggi’s death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a “huge and grave mistake” and promised that those responsible will be punished. He adamantly denied the Saudi leaders were involved.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday. “There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable in any government.”
Video footage showed Khashoggi entering, but no video ever showed him leaving. CNN on Monday published consulate surveillance footage that revealed what a senior Turkish official described as a Saudi operative dressed up in Khashoggi’s clothes on the day the journalist was killed. USA TODAY has viewed some of the footage but cannot verify what is shown.
The man, whom the Turkish official who spoke to CNN alleges was a body-double, is seen leaving the consulate by the back door, dressed like Khashoggi and wearing what appears to be a fake beard and glasses.
The same man, allegedly part of what investigators have said was a hit squad sent to kill the journalist, was later seen around the city. The senior official says it appears the man was part of a cover-up plan, making it appear that Khashoggi left the consulate alive.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will reveal details of Khashoggi’s slaying in a speech Tuesday before his parliament.
Khashoggi, a Saudi and contributor for The Washington Post, had drawn the ire of his government for repeated criticisms of the prince, of King Salman, and of Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen. Khashoggi disappeared Oct. 2 after entering the consulate to obtain documents in preparation for his marriage.
For weeks Saudi Arabia denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, saying he had left the consulate shortly after entering.
On Sunday, Jubeir called Khashoggi’s death a “criminal” act committed by individuals operating “outside the scope of their authority.” Jubeir said investigators were still investigating how Khashoggi was killed and what happened to his body.
Media reports have said Khashoggi was dismembered, a claim Jubeir said he could not confirm. He said 18 people had been arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s death. Jubeir said Saudi authorities have been working with Turkish investigators on the case.
Germany halted arms exports to the kingdom in the wake of the scandal, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying Sunday night that such sales could not take place in “current circumstances.”
The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s largest source of arms imports. President Trump acknowledged “deception and … lies” by the Saudis, but told the Post he was unwilling to cancel a lucrative arms deal with the Saudis. The kingdom, Trump said, would simply make the purchase from Russia or China.
“With that being said, something will take place,” Trump told the Post.
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