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Khashoggi case: All previous updates | Saudi Arabia News

Click here for the latest updates in the Khashoggi case

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry. He will killed inside the consulate.

Turkish sources have told media outlets they believe the killing was a “premeditated murder”.

Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi died in a “brawl”, after initially claiming he had left the building before vanishing. 

Al Jazeera started a ‘live updates’ page on October 10. Here are all the developments from Wednesday, October 10 till October 22:

Monday, October 22

Report: Saud al-Qahtani ‘ran Khashoggi killing via Skype’

Reuters news agency has reported that Saud al-Qahtani, a former royal court media adviser and top aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, orchestrated Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after being beamed into a room of the building via Skype.

Al-Qahtani was fired on Saturday during Riyadh’s efforts to contain the fallout over Khashoggi’s killing.

In its report, Reuters cited two unnamed Arab and Turkish intelligence sources. According to one of them, a high-ranking Arab source with access to intelligence and links to members of Saudi Arabia’s royal court, Qahtani began to hurl insults at Khashoggi over the phone, Reuters reported.

Khashoggi answered Qahtani’s insults with his own, the sources told Reuters. But he was no match for a 15-man hit team, which included top security and intelligence operatives, some with direct links to the royal court, Reuters said.

A Turkish intelligence source relayed that at one point Qahtani told his men to dispose of Khashoggi. “Bring me the head of the dog”, the Turkish intelligence source told Reuters that Qahtani instructed.

It is not clear if Qahtani watched the entire proceedings, which the high-ranking Arab source described as a “bungled and botched operation”.

The Reuters report came as a Turkish source told Al Jazeera that the Saudi death-squad filmed the killing and dismembering of Khashoggi in full.

The Arab source and the Turkish intelligence source told Reuters the audio of the Skype call is now in the possession of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who is refusing to release it to the United States.

Erdogan said on Sunday he would release information about the Turkish investigation on Tuesday.

Al-Qahtani’s ties to the crown prince are widely known – he once said he would never do anything without the approval of his boss.

“Do you think I make decisions without guidance? I am an employee and a faithful executor of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the faithful crown prince,” Qahtani wrote on Twitter last summer.

Meanwhile, al-Qahtani has changed his job status on Twitter, now describing himself as chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones.

He said the federation is a sports union which is non-governmental and works under the umbrella of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

Previously, he identified himself as an adviser at the Saudi royal court with the rank of minister, and supervisor of media studies and affairs.

Trump says US intelligence officers in Turkey as Mnuchin meets MBS

President Donald Trump has said the United States has “people in Saudi Arabia” and “top intelligence” officers in Turkey, as he repeated that he was “not satisfied” with what he has heard from Riyadh about Khashoggi’s killing.

“We’re going to see what we have,” he told reporters at the White House on Monday. “I’ll know a lot tomorrow, they will be coming back either tonight or tomorrow morning.”

Trump said there is “ no reason” for a one-month delay into Saudi Arabia’s investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.

“That’s a long time,” he said, adding he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Trump also repeated he did not want to lose investment from the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Saudi state TV said that MBS held a meeting with US Treasury Steven Mnuchin in Riyadh. The US official said on Sunday he would not attend a major investment conference to be hosted in Riyadh this week, and that his visit was to hold talks on joint efforts toward countering terrorist financing and curbing Iran’s military and political influence.

The Saudi crown prince and Mnuchin “stressed the importance of strategic partnership and the future role of this partnership through Vision 2030”, the Saudi TV said on Twitter, referring to the kingdom’s long-term development plan.Bolton: ‘We want to get the truth, and not just talk’

John Bolton, the US national security adviser, has said Washington wants to know all the details surrounding Khashoggi’s killing, adding that discussions with Saudi authorities on the case are ongoing.

“We want to get the truth, and not just talk,” Bolton, who is on a visit to Moscow, was quoted as saying on Monday by Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy.

“First of all, we need to know why he died. Who killed him?. We want to get the full lowdown on this process.”

Malaysia’s PM denounces Khashoggi’s murder

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad described Khashoggi’s killing as “terrible cruelty” and unacceptable.

Malaysia, he said, does not support the killing of government critics. “It is horrible what happened. Cannot accept.

“We all have someone we dislike, but we cannot simply kill him because we don’t like him. I used to be hated by many, and if we have the same system like the Saudi Arabia’s, I probably won’t be here talking to you today.

“Alhamdulillah, we don’t see such acts of tyranny here in our country.”

The prime minister’s comments follow a spate of condemnations from world leaders in recent days.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said he was “deeply concerned” about the killing after he met Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir at the presidential palace.

Report: French judge to probe complaint against MBS over alleged Yemen abuses

A report by French publication L’Express has said that a judge in Paris will investigate a legal complaint against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over possible human rights abuses in Yemen.

The complaint was filed by two Parisian lawyers, Joseph Breham and Hakim Chergui, on behalf of Mohamed Husein Taha, the representative of Yemeni NGO The Legal Center for Rights and Development, L’Express reported on Monday.

It was submitted in April during the crown prince’s visit to the French capital.

L’Express said the allegations against MBS include “complicity in torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment [of Yemenis]”.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since March 2015 after the Houthi rebels swept across the country and toppled the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Campaigners have accused MBS, who also serves as defence minister, of being the “chief architect” of the Yemen war, which has led to what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

‘Abandoned Saudi consulate car’ found in Istanbul

Turkish police have found an abandoned car belonging to the Saudi consulate at an underground car park in Istanbul, three weeks after Khashoggi’s killing at the kingdom’s mission in the city.

The car, which had diplomatic number plates, was found in an underground car park in the city’s Sultangazi district, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency and TRT World channel.

Registration documents showed that the vehicle belonged to the consulate, they added. Police have asked prosecutors and the Saudi consulate for permission to search the vehicle.

Police cordoned off access to the car park, where large numbers of media gathered, an AFP news agency photographer said.

Turkish police found a Saudi consulate car missing since the journalist disappeared [Al Jazeera screengrab]

Turkey ramps up language about Khashoggi killing

Turkey’s ruling party has said Khashoggi’s killing “was planned in an extremely savage manner”, in the first official indication that Ankara believes a murder plan was coordinated in advance.

“We are being careful so nobody tries to cover the issue up. The truth will come out. Those responsible will be punished, something like this will not cross anybody’s mind any more,” said Omer Celik, spokesperson for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Celik was referring to surveillance footage aired by CNN showing a man dressed as Khashoggi walking around Istanbul after he vanished in an apparent attempt at deception.

Yasin Aktay, one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s advisers, meanwhile wrote in the Yeni Safak daily that the Saudi version given so far “feels like our intelligence is being mocked”.

Erdogan has said he will release information about Turkey’s investigation in a speech on Tuesday.

Saudi conference site seemingly hacked

The website of the Saudi investment conference set to open in Riyadh this week appears to have been hacked.

The Future Investment Initiative, hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and nicknamed “Davos in the Desert”, was intended to showcase the kingdom’s economic reforms, but several big-name investors and companies have withdrawn in the outcry over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The website’s homepage displayed the message “404 Not Found” on Monday.

Twitter users meanwhile posted screen grabs of the conference’s homepage showing the crown prince standing over a kneeling Khashoggi with a flaming sword. 

READ MORE: Jamal Khashoggi killing – Is Saudi Arabia too toxic for investors?

Four phone calls made to Mohammed bin Salman’s office from the Saudi consulate the day Khashoggi was killed

Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a well-known travel companion of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, made four phone calls to the royal’s office from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul the day Khashoggi was killed there, a Turkish newspaper has reported.

Yeni Safak reported on Monday that Mutreb, who was a member of bin Salman’s entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain earlier this year, made four calls to Bader al-Asaker, the head of bin Salman’s office.

It said another call went to the US.

Saudis ‘brought Khashoggi body double’

Newly leaked surveillance footage appears to show a man walking around Istanbul wearing Khashoggi’s clothes after his murder.

CNN aired the footage on Monday, citing a Turkish official as describing the man as a “body double” and a member of a 15-man Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer. He was identified as Mustafa al-Madani.

CNN says the man walked out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice, then took a taxi to Istanbul’s famed Sultan Ahmed Mosque, where he went into a public toilet, changed back out of the clothes and left.

Khashoggi criticised crown prince for Israel rapprochement 

In a previously unheard interview with London-based outlet The New Arab (Arabic), Khashoggi is heard criticising bin Salman’s increasingly warm ties with Israel.

Khashoggi said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would not succumb to the prince’s pressure to accept a peace plan by the Trump administration because of the popular anger he would face.

In the interview, which took place in February this year, the Washington Post columnist said: 

“Abu Mazen (Abbas) told (Mohammed bin Salman) ‘hey brother, I cannot do this. My people will eat me alive’.

“Abu Mazen knows the reality on the ground, he knows his people, his situation is bad when it comes to his administration.”

He also dismissed suggestions that Saudi Arabia before 1979 was a better-run state than it is now.

“Saudi was not a liberal state before 1979. It was a religious extremist state,” Khashoggi said.

The Saudi crown prince has promised to reduce the influence of religious leaders in the country, which he says increased after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Crown prince’s bodyguard ‘took part of Khashoggi’s body’

Turkish officials believe that part of Khashoggi’s body was taken out of Turkey by a well-known travel companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bodyguards, according to a report by the Middle East Eye.

Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib is reported to have been seen carrying a large bag, which was not checked as he bypassed security checks through a VIP lounge at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.   

Turkish consulate employees give statements

Five Turkish employees of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul are giving statements as witnesses in the investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Khashoggi, Turkish broadcaster NTV said on Monday.

Last week, 20 consulate workers gave statements to prosecutors in relation to the incident, NTV had reported previously.

Canada could scrap Saudi arms deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Canada could cancel a multibillion-dollar defence contract with Saudi Arabia following the death of Khashoggi.

Trudeau, speaking on French-language talk show, Tout Le Monde En Parle – recorded Thursday before Riyadh confirmed Khashoggi’s death at its Istanbul consulate – insisted Canada would “always defend human rights, including with Saudi Arabia”.

Canadian regulations for the sale of military equipment include restrictions related to human rights violations and stipulations that military hardware cannot be used against civilians.

Asked about a key deal with Riyadh for the sale of light armoured vehicles worth CAD15bn ($11.4bn), Trudeau said: “in this contract, there are clauses that must be followed in relation to the use of what is sold to them.”

“If they do not follow these clauses, we will definitely cancel the contract.”

Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have been tense in recent months.

After Canada criticised the Saudi arrest of human rights activists, the kingdom retaliated by expelling the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own envoy to Ottawa and freezing trade and investment between the two countries.

On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would not export arms to Saudi Arabia amid the uncertainty around Khashoggi’s death.

Indonesian president calls for ‘transparent’ probe

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a “transparent and thorough” investigation into the death of journalist Khashoggi at a meeting on Monday with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir.

WSJ: ‘Why the outrage?’ Saudi crown prince asked

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Saudi crown prince called presidential adviser and Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on October 10, eight days after Khashoggi went missing.

“Why the outrage?” the prince asked in English, according to people briefed on the conversation, the WSJ said.

Erdogan and Trump discuss Khashoggi case on the phone

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump spoke on the telephone to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Turkish state-owned Anadolu agency said on Monday morning.

“Erdogan and Trump agreed the Khashoggi case needs to be cleared up with all aspects”, Anadolu said.

Saudi king, crown prince call Khashoggi’s son to express condolences

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both called Khashoggi’s son, Salah, to express their condolences, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia has said Khashoggi, 59, died in a fight inside its Istanbul consulate – after two weeks of denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance.

Khashoggi’s son thanked the king and the crown prince, the report said.

Foreign Minister al-Jubeir also extended his condolences to Khashoggi’s family.

“This is a terrible mistake. This is a terrible tragedy. Our condolences go out to them. We feel their pain,” al-Jubeir told US broadcaster, Fox.

“Unfortunately, a huge and grave mistake was made and I assure them that those responsible will be held accountable for this.”

Some observers have speculated the powerful crown prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi – who had criticised bin Salman – but the Saudi leadership has denied any involvement.

Erdogan, Trump agree all aspects of Khashoggi case need to be cleared up

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump spoke on the telephone to discuss Khashoggi’s killing, Anadolu news agency reported.

“Erdogan and Trump agreed the Khashoggi case needs to be cleared up with all aspects,” it said.

Anadolu added the two leaders also discussed American pastor Andrew Brunson, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the roadmap on Syria’s Manbij.

US treasury secretary’s Saudi trip back on

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended his decision to visit Saudi Arabia later this month despite the continuing turmoil following Khashoggi’s killing.

Last week, Mnuchin announced he would not attend a major economic conference in Riyadh after talks with President Trump about the assassination.

But speaking during a stop in Jerusalem, Mnuchin said the US’s strategic and economic relationship with the Saudis was too important to be put in jeopardy over Khashoggi’s murder.

“We have an important relationship with Saudi, focused on combating terrorist financing and focused on our common interests of stopping Iran’s spread of both terrorism and other issues,” Mnuchin was quoted as saying by The New York Times. 

“I am going to go there and meet with my counterparts and continue to focus on what’s in the treasury’s domain, as it relates to this issue.”

The three-day Future Investment Initiative, dubbed “Davos in the desert”, begins on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia. Many corporate heavyweights and prominent politicians have pulled out over Khashoggi’s murder. 

Still, organisers said 120 speakers will participate, down from 150. 

Sunday, October 21

Turkey puts Khashoggi’s fiancee under 24-hour protection

Turkish authorities have placed the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi under 24-hour police protection, the state-run news agency Anadolu has said.

The Istanbul governor’s office put Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish national who was expected to marry Khashoggi later this month under 24-hour police protection, Anadolu said.

Authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what prompted the decision to give her a security detail.

Germany freezes arms exports to Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi’s death

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she backs a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday that “I agree with all those who say that the already limited arms exports … can’t take place in the situation we’re currently in.”

Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, had already said on Saturday that he currently saw “no basis for decisions in favour of arms exports to Saudi Arabia”.

Last month, Germany approved $480 million worth of arms exports to Saudi Arabia for 2018.

In the past, military exports by Berlin to Saudi have mostly consisted of patrol boats.

Saudi foreign minister defends kingdom’s narrative of Khashoggi killing

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister has defended the kingdom’s narrative of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, saying it was comparable to the way the US government responsed to a 2004 CBS expose on the use of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Adel Al-Jubeir told FOX News that the reason it took the kingdom 18 days to confirm Khashoggi’s killing was because Saudi authorities didn’t “want to put out speculation or hearsay or gossip”.

“When you have a situation like this, you want the information you put out to be as accurate as possible. You don’t want to put out speculation or hearsay or gossip. These things take time. You may want to look back at the issue of Abu Ghraib and the timeline between when the incidents were discovered and when the US government came out with its initial report of what happened. These things take time and you want to be careful.”

When asked if MBS was aware of Khashoggi’s killing, Jubeir hit out saying: “the individuals who did this, do so out of the scope of their authority. There was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover it up.”

He then added: “The people involved weren’t tied to him. There were pictures of some security officers who may have been part of his security detail from time to time but this is normal. People who deal in security details rotate among different officials both domestic and foreign, so having somebody in a picture does not imply they are close – not at all – the Crown Prince has denied this. Even the senior leadership of our intelligence service was not aware of this.

“This was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had, and they made a mistake by killing Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover-up for it.”

When asked whether Khashoggi’s body was dismembered, Jubeir said the kingdom was “working” on finding this out with its Turkish counterparts.

Khashoggi killing ‘planned’: Turkish source

The office of Turkey’s prosecutor general has obtained evidence that shows Jamal Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was planned in advance, according to a source at the prosecutor general’s office.

The source, who spoke to Al Jazeera on Sunday on condition of anonymity, said the evidence found by the Turkish criminal investigation team fully supports the prosecutor general’s view of the circumstances of the journalist’s killing, without elaborating.

How the Saudi narrative of Khashoggi’s killing changed in 18 days

According to the source, Turkish authorities have received official statements from 15 Saudi suspects but did not ask for them to be brought to Turkey, pending completion of the investigation.

Turkish media reports have released information detailing a 15-member team that purportedly arrived in Istanbul to confront Khashoggi at the consulate.

In addition to receiving statements from those present when Khashoggi was killed on October 2, investigators have also questioned 25 staff members who work at the consulate, the source said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he would announce details of the Turkish investigation into Khashoggi’s killing on Tuesday.

UK, France and Germany issue joint statement condemning Khashoggi’s killing

The UK, France and Germany have issued a joint statement condemning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, saying there was an “urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, the governments said “nothing can justify this killing and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms. “

They said the “hypotheses” proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.

Erdogan: Turkey will reveal ‘naked truth’ over Khashoggi death on Tuesday

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he reveal the “naked truth” over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.

Khashoggi killing: Trump ‘not satisfied’ with Saudi explanation

“We are looking for justice here and this will be revealed in all its naked truth, not through some ordinary steps but in all its naked truth,” Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul.

Leading US senator accuses Mohammed bin Salman of Khashoggi murder

Bob Corker, a Republican senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, “crossed a line” in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Corker told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Saudi Arabia had “lost all credibility as it relates to explaining what has happened,” and that based on his briefings he believed MBS directed the killing of the Washington Post columnist.

“I’m not rushing to judgement – do I think he [MBS] did it [kill Khashoggi] – Yes, I think he did it,” Corker told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“The United States and the rest of the world will believe he did it.”

In the interview, Corker also criticised MBS’s supposed anti-corruption drive when more than 200 powerful Saudis were arrested last November, and the blockade placed on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbour Qatar.

“When you look [at] what he did when he came to power, he got the opposition in the Ritz Carlton. Detained them there. Tortured many of them.

“And if you look at the rookie mistake he made with Qatar, where without even talking to us they put in place this blockade. He has made some mistakes and obviously if he had gone forth and murdered this journalist, he’s now crossed the line, and there needs to be a punishment and a price payed for that.”

Trump accuses Saudi Arabia of ‘lies’ over Khashoggi killing

US President Donald Trump has accused Saudi Arabia of lying about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, in his strongest comments to date.

“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post published late on Saturday.

“Their stories are all over the place,” Trump added.

But the US President stopped far short of blaming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, of the murder saying he has yet to be shown any evidence by intelligence officials that would make him believe MBS had any direct role.

“Nobody has told me he’s responsible. Nobody has told me he’s not responsible. We haven’t reached that point. I haven’t heard either way,” Trump said.

Pakistan welcomes contacts between Saudi King and Erdogan

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said it welcomes the contacts between Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and their desire to continue to work together to address the Jamal Khashoggi issue.

“We welcome the steps taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey to address this issue. Disclosing facts to the public and bringing those responsible to justice is important in this regard,” it said.

Saudi official gives new version of Khashoggi killing

A Saudi official has told the Reuters news agency that the team of 15 Saudis who were sent to confront Khashoggi on October 2 killed him in a chokehold after “overstepping” their orders.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the team tried to intimidate Khashoggi but when the 59-year-old raised his voice, the team panicked.

They then tried to restrain him and placed him in a chokehold and covered his mouth.

Asked if the team had smothered Khashoggi, the official said: “If you put someone of Jamal’s age in this position, he would probably die.”

A member of the 15-man-team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate, the official added.

UK add voice to states casting doubt on Saudi narrative

Britain says Saudi Arabia’s explanation for how Jamal Khashoggi died inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul is not credible.

“No, I don’t think it is credible,” said Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, adding: “We support the Turkish investigation into it and the British government will want to see people held to account for that death.”

The UK joins a growing list of countries to pour cold water on Saudi Arabia’s latest official attempt to explain the Washington Post columnist’s disappearance.

Canada has also cast doubt and German leader Angela Merkel has called the official Saudi explanation “inadequate”.

WSJ: King Salman’s emissary heard Khashoggi recording 

A report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) citing two unnamed members of the Saudi royal family says a Saudi emissary sent to Ankara by King Salman heard an audio recording that dispels the official Saudi explanation that Khashoggi was killed in a brawl.

Prince Khalid al-Faisal allegedly had access to evidence that the journalist was “drugged, killed, and dismembered” shortly after entering the consulate, the report says.

“The audio does not have this nonsense about a fight that broke out after an argument,” one royal told the WSJ.

This account also contradicts the story offered in the previous post, in which an unnamed Saudi official told Reuters that Khashoggi’s body had not been cut up.

Reuters: Saudi official floats new story about Khashoggi death

As Saudi Arabia faced intensifying international scepticism over its story about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a senior government official laid out a new version of the death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that in key respects contradicts previous explanations.

The latest account, provided by a Saudi official who requested anonymity, includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi on October 2 had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and then killed him in a chokehold when he resisted.

A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.

Turkish officials suspect the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was cut up but the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal. Asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that.

The official presented what he said were internal intelligence documents which appeared to show the initiative to bring back dissidents as well as the specific one involving Khashoggi. He also showed testimony from those involved in what he described as the 15-man team’s cover-up, and the initial results of an internal probe.

Canada condemns Khashoggi killing, questions Saudi narrative

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freedland has condemned the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and offered her “sincere condolences” to his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and his family.

“The explanations offered (by Saudi Arabia) to date lack consistency and credibility,” she said in a statement, further calling for a “through investigation”.

“Those responsible for the killing must be held to account and must face justice,” Freedland added.

Saturday, October 20

Washington Post: This is not an explanation; it is a cover-up

The Washington Post has refused to accept Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the killing of Khashoggi, who was one of the paper’s columnists, accusing the kingdom of lying and carrying out a cover-up.

“The government of Saudi Arabia has shamefully and repeatedly offered one lie after another in the nearly three weeks since Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in their Istanbul consulate,” Fred Ryan, the newspaper’s publisher and chief executive, said in a statement.

“Offering no proof, and contrary to all available evidence, they now expect the world to believe that Jamal died in a fight following a discussion. This is not an explanation; it is a cover-up.

“President Trump, Congress and leaders of the civilised world should demand to see verifiable evidence. The Saudis cannot be allowed to fabricate a face-saving solution to an atrocity that appears to have been directed by the highest levels of their government.”

Trump ‘not satisified’ with Khashoggi case handling 

US President Donald Trump has said questions remain unanswered over Khashoggi’s killing following Saudi Arabia’s admission that the journalist died in a “fist-fight” inside its consulate. 

Asked during a trip to Nevada if he was satisfied that Saudi officials had been fired over Khashoggi’s death, Trump said: “No, I am not satisfied until we find the answer. But it was a big first step, it was a good first step. But I want to get answers.”

But Trump warned against halting a Saudi arms deal, saying it would hurt American jobs, despite the international furor over the death in the conservative kingdom’s Istanbul consulate of a dissident journalist.

“We have $450bn, $110bn of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters about an agreement to sell weapons to Riyadh.

“It’s over a million jobs; that’s not helpful for us to cancel an order like that. That hurts us far more than it hurts them,” he added, noting Riyadh could obtain the weapons from other countries like China or Russia.

“But there are other things that could be done, including sanctions.”

Riyadh has been a key ally of the US for decades and only grew closer under the Trump administration.

Trump has pointed to a “$450bn” arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s position as a bulwark to Iranian expansion in the region as reasons to continue close relations.

It is unclear from where Trump drew the $450bn figure. The US and Saudi Arabia announced a $350bn arms deal before Trump’s first trip to Saudi Arabia as president. Roughly $110bn of that deal, which is set to extend over 10 years, was effective immediately, according to CNBC.

On Friday, Trump had said he believed Saudi Arabia’s explanation was credible. 

Riyadh uses twitter trolls to silence critics: NY Times 

A New York Times report on Saturday said Saudi authorities were making use of an “army of Twitter trolls” to silence critics, including Khashoggi.

In its report, titled Saudis “Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider”, the daily claimed that authorities in Riyadh were conducting operations on Twitter to silence voices critical of the Saudi leadership and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular.

The report is based on interviews with seven people involved in those activities or “briefed on them; activists and experts who have studied them; and American and Saudi officials, along with messages seen by The New York Times that described the inner workings of the troll farm”.

Under the directive of the crown prince, “Saudi operatives have mobilized to harass critics on Twitter”, which became especially popular since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2010.

“Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed who was fired on Saturday in the fallout from Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, was the strategist behind the operation, according to United States and Saudi officials, as well as activist organisations,” the report said.

France’s Le Drian condemns Khashoggi’s killing, calls for in-depth probe

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country condemned the killing of Khashoggi and called for a thorough investigation into the incident. 

“France condemns this murder in the strongest terms,” Le Drian said in a statement. 

“The confirmation of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi’s death is a first step toward the establishment of the truth. However, many questions remain unanswered,” he added. 

Le Drian added that those responsible for Khashoggi’s death should be held accountable. 

Merkel condemns Khashoggi’s killing

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and said explanations given so far of the circumstances surrounding his death were inadequate.

“We condemn this act in the strongest terms,” she and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a joint statement.

“We expect transparency from Saudi Arabia about the circumstances of his death […] The information available about events in the Istanbul consulate is inadequate.”

Expressing deep sympathy to Khashoggi’s friends and relatives, they said those responsible for his death must be held accountable.

Turkey will not accept ‘cover-up’ in Khashoggi case – AK Party spokesperson

Turkey will uncover the full details of Khashoggi’s killing using all possible means, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said.

Jamal Khashoggi’s final interview

“Turkey will reveal whatever happened. Nobody should ever doubt it,” spokesperson Omer Celik was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don’t accept anything remaining covered [up],” Celik added.

Turkish-Arab Media Association demands answers over Khashoggi killing

Turkish-Arab Media Association President Turan Kislakci said the group wants “true justice” for Khashoggi and the “authority that gave the orders” to kill the Saudi dissident punished.

“We need to know where Jamal’s body is […] and we want the rest of the world to know how it happened and what happened exactly,” Kislakci said in a statement to reporters outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Amnesty demands Saudi Arabia hand over Khashoggi’s body for independent autopsy

Amnesty International has called for an independent probe into Khashoggi’s killing and demanded Saudi Arabia “immediately produce” his body so an autopsy can be performed by forensic experts “in accordance with international standards“.

“The investigation findings by the Saudi authorities claiming that Khashoggi died as a result of a “fist-fight” inside the consulate are not trustworthy and marks an abysmal new low to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record,” Samah Hadid, Amnesty’s director of campaigns for the Middle East, said in a statement.

“His family and the world deserve the full truth about what happened to him, and those responsible, however high their rank or status, must face justice,” Hadid added.

“An independent investigation will be the only guarantee against what increasingly appears as a Saudi whitewash surrounding the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder or any attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative arms deals and other business ties with Riyadh.”

European leaders heap skepticism on Saudi account of Khashoggi killing, call for clarity

European leaders have demanded further examination of Khashoggi’s killing after Saudi Arabia’s confession on Saturday that the 59-year-old writer and critic died during a “fist-fight” in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Saudi’s explanation of Khashoggi’s death.

Merkel said the “horrific events” had not been “cleared up”, Bloomberg reported.

“Of course we demand that they be cleared up,” Merkel added.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also expressed scepticism over the Saudi’s account of Khashoggi’s death.

“The fact that the Saudis last night confirmed that he died, after previously insisting he left the consulate alive, shows that we haven’t been told the full truth, and we must insist on getting that,” Bloomberg quoted Rasmussen as saying.

If Trump will not respond to Khashoggi killing, Congress might

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said “a lot still remains uncertain” in the case.

“A lot still remains uncertain. What happened? How did he die? Who is responsible? I expect and I hope that all relevant facts will be clear as soon as possible … Thorough investigation is necessary,” Rutte told reporters in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, meanwhile, called for an international investigation to examine the evidence linked to Khashoggi’s death.

“[A] rigorous, international investigation [is] urgently needed to examine evidence, clarify circumstances surrounding death of Jamal Khashoggi,” Tajani said in a post on Twitter.

Regional allies praise Saudi’s response to ongoing Khashoggi probe

Saudi Arabia’s allies in the Middle East rallied behind the kingdom over its response to the ongoing investigation into the killing of Saudi writer and critic Khashoggi.

Egypt praised Saudi’s King Salman for taking “decisive” action over the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Khashoggi.

On Saturday, Saudi state media reported that King Salman had ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to restructure the Kingdom’s intelligence services.

“Egypt sees that the brave and decisive decisions and actions taken by the Saudi King over this matter align with his majesty’s approach that respects the principles of law and applications of effective justice,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry offered its condolences to Khashoggi’s family and said it was confident the ongoing probe into his death would reveal the truth.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also voiced support for Saudi’s King Salman and commended his “directives and decisions … on the issue of Kashoggi”, UAE’s state-run WAM news agency reported.

Bahrain, meanwhile, said in an official statement that Saudi Arabia “will remain a state of justice, value and principles”, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV network reported.

Saudi pressured into releasing initial results – AK Party’s human rights head

Saudi Arabia had no choice but to reveal preliminary results from an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder because of evidence gathered by Turkish officials, the head of human rights for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said in a statement.

Further evidence will be released soon, Layla Sahin Usta said, as a Turkish-led probe into the 59-year-old’s fate remains ongoing against a backdrop of widespread skepticism over Saudi’s version of events.

On Saturday, Saudi state media reported Khashoggi was killed in a “fist-fight” with the Kingdom’s officials inside its consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The announcement marked a U-turn from the Kingdom, which had previously denied the 60-year-old died inside the building.

Britain considering ‘next steps’ following Saudi Arabia confession over Khashoggi killing

Britain is considering its “next steps” following Saudi Arabia’s admission over the killing of Khashoggi within the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, the UK’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We send our condolences to Jamal Khashoggi’s family after this confirmation of his death. We are considering the Saudi report and our next steps,” the statement said.

“As the Foreign Secretary has said, this was a terrible act and those responsible must be held to account,” the statement added.

The UK’s main opposition Labour party has called on the governing Conservative Party to suspend arms sales to the kingdom.

Khashoggi case ‘most serious’ diplomatic crisis faced by Saudi since 9/11 – analyst

Marwan Kabalan, director of policy and analysis at the Doha-based Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies, said the uproar sparked by the killing of Khashoggi has posed the “most serious diplomatic crisis for Saudi Arabia since September 11 [2001]”.

Saudi Arabia admits Khashoggi killed in Istanbul consulate

“The [Saudi’s] story will not be convincing to many people; it’s very difficult to believe the hit squad that arrived in Istanbul came to have a discussion with Khashoggi,” Kabalan told Al Jazeera.

“I think with the help of their friends in Washington – I’m talking about President Donald Trump, who is trying to provide them with an exit and way out – they may think that they are close to closing this case,” he added.

“But I don’t think so because it very much depends on whether the Turks are going to accept this [Saudi] story. The Turks [may] have their own version of what happened in the consulate.”

Former CIA intelligence officer: Saudi account is ‘foolish’

Former CIA intelligence officer Glenn Carle told Al Jazeera the “absurdity of the crumbling cover stories” would bring a smile to the face of anyone paying attention.

The newest account, in which Khashoggi died during a fight with consulate officials, was right to draw ire, Carle said.

“As though a 59 or 60-year-old man would walk into a consulate … and pick a fight with 15 thugs. I don’t think so. So the story is foolish.”

Carle said Trump’s statements affirming that he believes the Saudi account of what happened were “stupid and offensive” but “characteristic”.

“Trump has clearly been accepting whatever the Saudis say “in order to maintain relations”, Carle concluded.

World reacts to Saudi confirmation of Khashoggi’s killing

Here’s how the world reacted to Saudi Arabia’s announcement confirming Jamal Khashoggi was killed in its consulate in Istanbul.

Who is Ahmed al-Asiri, the sacked Saudi intelligence chief?

Major General Ahmed Al-Asiri was sacked as Saudi Arabia’s deputy intelligence chief on Friday, Saudi state media reported.

Al-Asiri has served as an adviser to bin Salman, who promoted him to his intelligence position last year, and is considered to be one of MBS’ closest aides.

He is “a key figure within the royal household, a very senior figure,” Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reported from Istanbul, following the announcement. “He has been fingered by the royal household as being partly to blame for this.”

Saudi Arabia pays UK firms millions to boost image: Guardian

Saudi Arabia has been paying UK firms million of pounds to help improve the kingdom’s image in recent years, a Guardian investigation found on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation has been hit hard in recent years due to its record on human rights and its role in the war in Yemen, but especially following the killing of Washington Post journalist Khashoggi.

Firms that have worked to boost Saudi Arabia’s image include PR agency Freud’s – which is now distancing itself from the kingdom; the London office of online publisher Vice which has been working on a series of films to promote Saudi Arabia; the Independent, which established a partnership with a Saudi publisher with close links to the Saudi government; and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

A Saudi publishing company that is signing partnerships with western media firms donated to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in exchange for his advice for Saudi Arabia, the Guardian reported.

Trump wants to protect arms sale to Saudi Arabia 

US President Donald Trump says he’d prefer “some form of sanction” on Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s death, but added that he wants to protect arms sale. 

Trump says he doesn’t think Saudi leadership lied to him

US President Donald Trump told reporters that he doesn’t think the Saudi leadership lied to him when they denied Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. 

Trump said he will speak to the Saudi crown prince. 

Trump: Saudi announcement on Khashoggi ‘good first step’ 

US President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Saturday confirming Jamal Khashoggi’s death is a “good first step, a big step”. 

Trump said what happened to Khashoggi is “unacceptable”, adding however, that he thinks Saudi Arabia’s explanation was credible.  

MBS had no knowledge of ‘specific’ Khashoggi operation: Reuters source

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had no knowledge of the specific operation that resulted in the death of Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, a Saudi official familiar with the investigation told Reuters on Friday.

“There were no orders for them to kill him or even specifically kidnap him,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity and adding that there was a standing order to bring critics of the kingdom back to the country.

“MBS had no knowledge of this specific operation and certainly did not order a kidnapping or murder of anybody. He will have been aware of the general instruction to tell people to come back,” the source said, using the initials of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The source said the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body were unclear after it was handed over to a “local cooperator” but there was no sign of it at the consulate.

US congressman: Saudi explanation ‘not credible’

A high-ranking Democratic US congressman is expressing doubts about the credibility of Saudi Arabia’s explanation that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a fight inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

California Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Friday that Saudi Arabia’s claim that he was “killed while brawling with a team of more than a dozen dispatched from Saudi Arabia is not credible”.

Schiff says that if Khashoggi was fighting inside the consulate, he was “fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him”.

He says if Trump’s Republican administration won’t hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi’s death, Congress will.

UN chief ‘deeply troubled’ by confirmation of journalist’s death

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “deeply troubled” by the confirmation of Jamal Khashoggi, a UN spokesman said. 

The spokesman added that Guterres “stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation” into the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s death. 

US Senator Menendez: ‘Global Magnitsky Act doesn’t have exceptions’ 

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said on Twitter: “We have proven that international pressure can succeed. Our united outrage clearly factored into the Saudi gov’s calculated admission”. 

The senator, who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was part of a group of senators who triggered the Magnitsky Act earlier this month, which requires the US president to determine whether Khashoggi’s rights were violated and whether to impose targeted sanctions. 

Following the news of Saudi Arabia’s confirmation, Menendez said: The Global Magnitsky Act doesn’t have exceptions for accidents. Even if Khashoggi died because of an altercation, that’s no excuse for his murder.

White House ‘saddened’ to hear confirmation of Khashoggi’s death

The White House acknowledged in a statement the Saudi announcement on the investigation of Khashoggi’s death. 

“We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiance and friends,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. 

She added that the US will continue to closely follow the international investigations into the incident and “advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process”. 

US Senator Graham ‘sceptical of Saudi narrative’

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been outspoken on Khashoggi’s disappearance, tweeted: “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr Khashoggi is an understatement.”

Saudi King orders formation of committee headed by crown prince

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered the restructuring of the command of the general intelligence agency under the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the official Saudi press agency said on Saturday.

The agency added the order also included updating regulations, determining the agency’s powers, and evaluating its methods and procedures. The committee, according to the King’s order, should report to the King within a month.

‘Kingdom expresses its deep regret’ over Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi state-run news agency says “the kingdom expresses its deep regret” over the slaying of writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi king to restructure kingdom’s intelligence services 

Saudi King Salman has proposal to restructure kingdom’s intelligence services after Khashoggi killing, state media reported. 

18 Saudi nationals arrested over Khashoggi’s death

A statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said a fight broke out between Khashoggi and people who met him in the consulate and led to his death.

“The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested,” the statement on state media said

Saudi Arabia sacks two senior officials over Khashoggi killing 

The Saudi kingdom fired royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri, state media said. 

Saudi Arabia confirms Khashoggi killed inside Istanbul consulate

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday preliminary results of investigations showed US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a fight with people he met there, state media reported.

Friday, October 19

Saudi investment summit to go ahead with new programme

Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”, will go ahead later this month with an updated programme that includes heads of state from the Arab world, Africa and Asia, according to a conference spokeseperson. 

The spokesperson added that the conference will include “business leaders, investors and innovators from across the world”.

A string of Western executives have pulled out of Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative conference in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

Pompeo: Wide range of US responses if Saudis behind journalist death

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of a “wide range” of responses should Washington determine that Saudi Arabia is behind the disappearance and apparent death of Khashoggi.

“We’ll certainly consider a wide range of potential responses, but I think the important thing to do is that the facts come out,” Pompeo told Voice of America radio.

The United States is Saudi Arabia’s biggest backer and the feared murder of Khashoggi has presented President Donald Trump with one of the most acute foreign policy crises of his nearly two-year-old presidency.

Trump: Pompeo wasn’t shown purported recording of Khashoggi killing  

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not seen or heard any purported recordings from the Saudi consulate in Turkey, President Donald Trump said in a tweet. 

Both Pompeo and Turkey’s foreign ministry dismissed media reports that said Ankara had shared audio recordings from the ongoing investigation. 

Companies that have dropped out of Saudi investment summit so far

Foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia had already fallen to historically low levels before Khashoggi went missing.

But since the allegations of his murder, many multinational companies and individuals say they are not going to a Saudi investment summit due to be held in Riyadh next week.

Find out more by watching the video below.

WATCH: Companies that boycotted the Saudi summit so far (01:36)

Ex- UK intelligence chief: ‘Khashoggi probably killed on order of people close to MBS’

A former head of Britain’s MI6 spy agency said Khashoggi was probably killed on the orders of people close to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

John Sawers, who headed MI6 between 2009 and 2014, told the BBC that “all the evidence points to it being ordered and carried out” by people close to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

“I don’t think he would have done this if he hadn’t thought he had license from the U.S. administration to frankly behave as he wished to do so,” he said.

Sawyers said Khashoggi’s disappearance was a wake-up call to the Trump administration about “just how dangerous it is to have people acting with a sense that they have impunity in their relationship with the United States.”

ABB engineering group CEO latest to drop out of investment conference 

Swiss engineering group ABB has said Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer will not attend the Future Investment Initiative in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, next week. 

Spiesshofer joins other world business and political leaders who have withdrawn amid concern about Khashoggi’s fate. ABB did not give a reason for his decision.

Airbus defence chief Dirk Hoke and Deutsche Bank’s CEO Christian Sewing also dropped out. 

Report: ‘King Salman asserts authority, checks son’s power’

Citing five sources close to the Saudi royal family, Reuters news agency reported that King Salman, long absent from the day to day running of the kingdom, has felt compelled to intervene as the Khashoggi crisis deepened.

Since outmanoeuvring his rivals to become Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader in 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s portfolio of tasks had slowly expanded to include issues such as economic diversification, diplomacy and defence. 

This came to a sharp halt with the disappearance of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

The report notes that the king, initially unaware of the Khashoggi crisis, eventually sent his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 11. 

“The selection of Khaled, a senior royal with high status, is telling as he is the king’s personal adviser, his right hand man and has very strong ties and a friendship with Erdogan,” Reuters quoted a Saudi source with links to government circles as saying. 

One of the sources told Reuters that the king’s unawareness was partly “because [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] MBS aides had been directing the king to glowing news about the country on Saudi TV channels”.

“Even if MBS wanted to keep this away from the king he couldn’t because the story about Khashoggi’s disappearance was on all the Arab and Saudi TV channels watched by the king,” another unnamed source said. 

“The King started asking aides and MBS about it. MBS had to tell him and asked him to intervene when Khashoggi’s case became a global crisis.” 

Turkish probe locates exact site of Khashoggi ‘killing’ – sources

Turkish investigators were able to locate the exact place within the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was allegedly killed during their search of the building earlier this week, Turkish sources have told Al Jazeera.

The investigators, who used audio recordings of Khashoggi’s alleged murder to guide their search, also confirmed that Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, an autopsy expert, began cutting up the 60-year-old’s body immediately after he was killed, the sources said.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from outside the consulate in Istanbul, said the leaks showed Turkish officials were growing “increasingly frustrated with the pace of the investigation”.

“That frustration is now pushing the Turks to release more information and the more information that is being leaked, the more seemingly macabre and shocking it [this case] has become,” Stratford said.

European aerospace giant drops out of Saudi investment conference

European aerospace giant Airbus said the chief of its defence and space division, Dirk Hoke, will not attend Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative conference, scheduled to begin in Riyadh on October 23.

“A guideline has been issued to abstain from high profile engagements at this point in time. However, we believe it is important to maintain engagement and dialogue in a country which hosts about 1,000 of our employees,” a spokesman said.

Hoke’s pull out marks the latest high-profile business boycott of the event, widely dubbed “Davos in the Desert”, as international scrutiny and media focus on Saudi Arabia continues to escalate following the disappearance of Saudi writer and critic Jamal Khashoggi.

On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced he would not attend after talks with US President Donald Trump.

Turkish foreign minister denies sharing audio recordings with Washington

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has dismissed reports Ankara shared audio recordings documenting the alleged murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the United States, according to Reuters news agency.

On Thursday, reports suggested Turkish officials had provided US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with a recording indicating Khashoggi was killed by Saudi operatives after entering the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

Cavusoglu also said Turkey has evidence and information obtained from its ongoing investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2, and will share the results of the probe “transparently” with the world.

British Foreign Secretary: UK to take ‘considered’ response to results of Khashoggi probe

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK government will take a “considered” response to any results that emerge from the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

How dangerous is it to be a journalist in the Arab world?

He also warned that allegations the Saudi writer and critic was brutally murdered would be totally unacceptable if proven to be true.

“Part of our reaction will depend on the Saudi reaction, and whether we sense that they are taking it as seriously as we are taking it. But this is a very, very serious matter,” Hunt told the BBC.

“Our relationship with Saudi is a strategic relationship as well. Our response will be considered … [but] in the end, if these stories are true, we have to be absolutely clear, it would not be consistent with our values.”

Thursday, October 18

Amnesty raises alarm over tennis stars’ participation in Saudi exhibition match

Amnesty International UK has warned tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic their participation in an exhibition match due to be held in the Saudi city of Jeddah in December could “sportswash” the Kingdom’s “truly appalling human rights record”, UK newspaper The Times reported.

Announced earlier this month, the so-called King Salman Tennis Championship, has come under increased scrutiny as a result of mounting international concern and media focus regarding the fate of missing Saudi writer and critic Jamal Khashoggi.

“It’s not for us to say which countries should and shouldn’t be hosting sporting competitions, but it’s also clear that countries like Saudi Arabia are well aware of the potential for sport to subtly ‘rebrand’ a country,” The Times quoted Allan Hogarth, head of advocacy and programmes at Amnesty International UK, as saying.

“Even before the extremely alarming case of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia had a truly appalling human rights record and any sportsperson needs to understand that their participation in sporting events in the country could be used as a form of ‘sportswashing’,” Hogarth added.

“It’s up to Nadal and Djokovic where they play their lucrative exhibition matches, but if they go to Jeddah we’d like to see them using their profiles to raise human rights issues. Tweeting support for Saudi Arabia’s brave human rights defenders would be a start.”

Neither of the pair have made any public comment regarding the event since October 7, when they both said on Twitter they were “looking forward to playing [the match] and visiting [Saudi Arabia]”.

NYT: Saudis may blame intelligence official for Khashoggi killing

Saudi rulers are considering blaming a top intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the suspected killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the New York Times reported.

Global reactions to #Khashoggi ‘murder’

Citing three people with knowledge of the Saudi plans, the newspaper said Saudi Arabia is planning to assign blame to General Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince.

People close to the White House have already been briefed about the plan and given Assiri’s name, the Times said.

“The Saudis are already pointing to General Assiri as the culprit,” it reported.

Assiri previously served as the spokesman for the Saudi-Emirati led military coalition fighting in Yemen.

According the Times, the Saudi leadership is expected to say Assiri received the green-light from the crown prince to rendition Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, but he either “misunderstood his instructions or overstepped”, according to two sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pompeo listened Khashoggi ‘murder’ recording: report

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listened to an alleged audio recording of Khashoggi’s killing, ABC News reported, citing a senior Turkish official.

The Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pompeo listened to the recording on Wednesday during a meeting in Turkey, adding he was also given a transcript of it.

Turkish officials also believe Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate following a struggle that lasted eight minutes and they believe he died of strangulation.

The State Department denied the report. “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

US’ Pompeo briefing on #Khashoggi ‘murder’ after Saudi visit

Dozens of American lawmakers demand Saudi sanctions

More than 40 lawmakers pressed US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance and suspected murder.

“If your immediate investigation and determination are consistent with ongoing media reports about this outrageous action, we urge strong, comprehensive sanctions,” members of the House of Representatives said in a letter, which also called for an end to US support for Saudi Arabia’s military action in Yemen.

Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies the kingdom did not order the killing of Khashoggi. The bill currently has eight co-sponsors from both political parties.

The lawmakers also voiced support for their colleagues in the Senate, who have already triggered an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

US VP: ‘World deserves answers’ on Khashoggi

Vice President Mike Pence said after Saudi Arabia reports the results of its investigation – and the administration looks at other available information – it will decide what to do next.

“The world needs to know what happened here, and those who are responsible need to be held to account,” Pence said.

“We’ll collect all the evidence and then the president will have a decision about what the proper course of action is for us going forward. The world deserves answers. If what has been alleged occurred – if an innocent person lost their life at the hands of violence – that’s to be condemned.

“If a journalist, in particular, lost their life at the hands of violence, that’s an affront to a free and independent press around the world, and there will be consequences. But, we’ll wait for the facts. We’ll wait for all the information to come in.” 

Trump: ‘Certainly looks’ like Khashoggi is dead

US President Donald Trump says it “certainly looks” as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead.

Trump did not say what he based his conclusion on, but told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base the consequences for the Saudis “will have to be very severe” if they are found to have killed him.

“It’s bad, bad stuff,” he said.

Turkey expands Khashoggi search to wooded areas

Turkish investigators widened their probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance to include three different areas on the outskirts of Istanbul, officials told Al Jazeera.

“Investigators tracked the vehicles that left the Saudi consulate and consul general’s residence on the day Khashoggi disappeared to these areas. They used traffic cameras to do that,” Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal said, citing sources at the Turkish prosecutor’s office.

One area investigators are searching was a forest called Belgrad, roughly 16km from Istanbul’s city centre, Elshayyal said, while the other was farmland in Turkey’s Yalova province, about 93km east of the city.

Saudi prince’s companion at consulate when Khashoggi vanished

A member of Crown Prince Mohammed’s entourage during several trips abroad walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul just before Khashoggi vanished there, according to photos published by Turkish newspaper Sabah.

The man, identified as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb by Turkish officials, has been photographed in the background of Prince Mohammed’s trips to the US, France and Spain this year.

Surveillance pictures published by Sabah show Mutreb walking past police barricades at the consulate at 9:55am on October 2 with several men trailing behind him.

Khashoggi arrived at the consulate several hours later at 1:14pm, and never re-emerged.

Turkish officials identified the man as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb [Sabah via AP]

Rights groups seek UN probe over Khashoggi

Four prominent human rights and press freedom groups urged Turkey to request a UN investigation into Khashoggi’s suspected murder to prevent a “whitewash” of the alleged crime.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders said Turkey should enlist the UN “to initiate a timely, credible, and transparent investigation”.

“UN involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh,” said Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the CPJ.

US Treasury Secretary withdraws from Riyadh conference

Secretary of US Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, says he will not attend next week’s investment conference in Saudi Arabia as a probe continues into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US gives Saudi Arabia ‘few more days’ on Khashoggi

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he told President Donald Trump that the US should give Saudi Arabia a few more days to wrap up its investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days … so that we too have a complete understanding of the facts” before deciding on a response, Pompeo told reporters at the White House.

Putin wants more evidence on Khashoggi’s fate

Saudi Crown Prince in the spotlight after #Khashoggi ‘murder’

Vladimir Putin says Russia will wait for the outcome of an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance before deciding what impact the writer’s fate may have on relations with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at an international policy forum in Sochi, the Russian president called Khashoggi’s disappearance a “tragedy”, but said Moscow needs “to understand what happened” before deciding what impact it may have on ties with Riyadh.

“Those who believe that there was a murder must present evidence,” he said.

Biden: Trump ‘seems to have a love affair with autocrats’

A former US Vice President has criticised Trump’s response to Khashoggi’s disappearance, saying the president “coddles” dictators.

Joe Biden told CBS’ “This Morning” programme that if Saudi Arabia is found to be responsible for the journalist’s suspected murder, the kingdom should “absolutely, positively” face consequences.

Biden, who has been tipped as a potential Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 elections, said the “retaliation” could take the form of cancelled arms sales.

He added that his doubts about Crown Prince Mohammed leadership have “been confirmed”.

“My doubts are that there’s very little of rule of law, respect for human rights, dignity and the allegations that are made so far – we don’t know yet – are not inconsistent with the way the kingdom would act and so I’m very worried that the president seems to have a love affair with autocrats and the idea that he’s already making excuses before the facts are known is typical but it hurts us internationally,” he said.

UK trade minister pulls out of Saudi conference

British trade minister Liam Fox has pulled out of the Saudi investment summit, saying the time “was not right for him” to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on October 23.

“The UK remains very concerned about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance,” a spokesperson for the minister said. “Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.”

Audio ‘reveals Khashoggi was beaten as he entered the consulate’

Sources in the Turkish police and public prosecutor’s office have told Al Jazeera that an 11-minute audio recording reveals Khashoggi was beaten up as he entered the Saudi consulate.

The recording purportedly features voices in the A and B blocks of the consulate building, which are part of the building’s entrance.

Who are the Saudi suspects in the Khashoggi case?

The information comes a day after Turkish authorities searched the Saudi consulate and the residence of the consul general.

Fingerprints found during the search include those of Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, an autopsy expert from Naif Arab University for Security Sciences.

He is among the 15 men suspected of forming a Saudi hit squad to kill Khashoggi. His fingerprints were found around an electrical socket in the consulate.

None of the men entered Turkey on fake passports, according to sources in the public prosecutor’s office, who say some are thought to have used diplomatic passports.

Sources have also told Al Jazeera that an individual close to Khashoggi is believed to have been relaying information back to Saudi Arabia about the journalist’s actions and whereabouts since he left the kingdom.

Dutch cancel Saudi trade mission

The Dutch government cancelled a trade mission to Saudi Arabia next month due to concerns over the disappearance of Khashoggi, a spokeswoman said.

“All trade missions to the country have been suspended for now,” a spokeswoman for PSPS Consultants, which had organised the trip for the government told Reuters.

The decision came minutes after Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said he was scrapping plans to attend the Future Investment Initiatives conference in Riyadh next week.

Also on Thursday, the CEO of French defence electronics group Thales announced that he would no longer be attending the conference, however the company will still be represented by Jean-Loic Galle, an executive in Thales’ space division.

Searches turn up fingerprints and ‘important samples’

Turkish sources have told Al Jazeera that “important samples” were found during searches of two Saudi diplomatic buildings in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Istanbul, said particular attention had been paid to an area of the consulate called the “C-block”.

“It was only open to diplomatic staff. Sources in the last couple of hours have said that they have very strong evidence that Khashoggi was killed inside the C-block of the consulate.

Khashoggi disappearance: Trump asks Turkey for recordings

Sources told Al Jazeera that they found fingerprints inside C-block of six of the 15 men accused of forming part of a hit-squad.

Investigators spent more than 12 hours scouring the consulate and consul general’s residence for clues about Khashoggi’s fate.

French economy minister pulls out of Saudi conference

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has become the latest high-profile figure to drop out of an economic conference in Saudi Arabia over the alleged murder of Khashoggi.

“I won’t go to Riyadh next week,” he told France’s Public Senate TV channel on Thursday, saying the journalist’s disappearance was “very serious”.

Companies such as Uber, JP Morgan Chase and HSBC have also dropped out, along with media giants CNN, The Financial Times and The New York Times.

Turkish investigators leave Saudi consul’s residence

Turkish investigators who searched the Saudi consul-general’s residence in Istanbul recovered “samples” after examining the premises for more than nine hours, according to sources at the prosecutor’s office.

“Whether these were samples of DNA or blood samples is unclear. Apparently, according to sources, these were quite convincing in terms of evidence,” said Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from outside the building.

The forensics team scoured the residence, garage and garden as well, Simmons said. Turkish investigators were seen leaving the building carrying boxes and bags.

Sources say there is video evidence that a car drove from the Saudi consulate to the consul general’s residence on the day Khashoggi disappeared.

Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi and his family unexpectedly left Turkey on Tuesday.

Turkish investigators also re-examined the Saudi consulate after searching it for nine hours on Monday as part of the Khashoggi investigation.

Turkey’s interior minister said the investigation’s results will be “shared with the world”, which could happen this week.

Turkish newspaper gives graphic detail of alleged murder

A pro-government Turkish newspaper published a gruesome recount of Khashoggi’s alleged killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Yeni Safak reported Khashoggi was killed within minutes of entering the consulate and his torturers severed his fingers during an interrogation. His killers later beheaded and dismembered him, it said, citing an alleged audio recording of the attack.

The newspaper said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on the tape telling those allegedly torturing Khashoggi: “Do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble.”

The newspaper said one of the men torturing Khashoggi replied: “Shut up if you want to live when you return to [Saudi] Arabia.”

A New York Times report cited a senior Turkish official confirming the details published by Yeni Safak.

Turkey has not shared with the US government or European allies graphic audio or video evidence, seven US and European security officials told Reuters news agency.

The United States and allies have collected some intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the sources said.

A man holds a Yeni Safak newspaper with the headline: ‘[To the Saudi consul] Shut up’ [Burhan Ozbilici/AP]

Trump denies covering for Saudis

How will Jamal Khashoggi’s possible death affect MBS?

US President Donald Trump denied covering up for ally Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi’s suspected murder.

Trump’s comments followed the publication in pro-government Turkish media of allegations purporting to confirm Khashoggi was not only murdered by Saudi agents in their consulate in Istanbul, but tortured and dismembered.

“No not at all, I just want to find out what’s happening,” Trump told reporters in the White House when asked if his cautious approach to the scandal amounts to a cover-up.

“I’m not giving cover at all.”

The president said he would get a “full report” from Pompeo on the diplomat’s return from meetings with Saudi and Turkish leaders, allowing him to assess what really happened.

“We will probably know that by the end of the week,” Trump said.

Turkish forensic experts leave the Saudi consulate in Istanbul early Thursday [Murad Sezer/Reuters]

Mnuchin to decide Thursday if attending Saudi conference

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he will decide on Thursday whether he will attend an investment conference in Riyadh that has been boycotted by global business leaders concerned about Khashoggi’s fate.

Mnuchin said he will “revisit the decision again” after reviewing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s report on the case on Thursday.

Washington Post publishes new Khashoggi column

The Washington Post published a new column by Khashoggi, in which he discussed the importance of a free press in the Middle East.

Governments in the region “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate”, he wrote.

Khashoggi condemned what he called silence from the international community over attacks on press freedom, saying imprisonment of journalists and seizing control of newspapers “no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community”.

“Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation followed by silence,” he wrote.

Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said she received the column from Khashoggi’s assistant a day after he was reported missing.

The newspaper also plans to publish a page dedicated to Khashoggi in its opinions section on Thursday.

US senators press Trump on Saudi business ties

Eleven Democratic senators have sent a letter to Trump and to the Trump Organization seeking a full accounting of any financial ties between the Trump Organization and Saudi Arabia.

“It is imperative that this sanctions determination, and US policy towards Saudi Arabia generally, are not influenced by any conflicts of interest that may exist because of your or your family’s deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia,” the senators wrote to Trump.

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The lawmakers also voiced support for their colleagues in the Senate, who have already triggered an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Wednesday, October 17

Turkey yet to share Khashoggi audio, video evidence with US

Turkey has not shared with the US government or key European allies graphic audio or video evidence it allegedly collected on Khashoggi’s visit to Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, seven US and European security officials told Reuters.

‘Identical samples uncovered at consulate and consul’s residence’

Turkish forensic experts who searched the residence of Saudi Arabia’s Consul General in Istanbul have found “samples identical to those uncovered” at the kingdom’s consulate in the city, according to Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal.

Sources at the Attorney General’s Office “say these samples provide further evidence of the conclusion that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate building”, our correspondent said, reporting from Istanbul.


Turkey has now asked the US to share Khashoggi’s blood and DNA samples with them, he added.

Trump asked Turkey for audio, video evidence

President Donald Trump said the US has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it may have related to the disappearance of Khashoggi but was not sure whether any such evidence exists.

“We have asked for it, if it exists … I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does,” he said.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, denied he was trying to give cover to Saudi leaders, a day after he cautioned against assuming Saudi leaders were guilty in the case until proven innocent.

“I just want to find out what’s happening,” he said. “I’m not giving cover at all.”

Trump says he does not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia

Donald Trump says he does not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia despite ongoing concerns about Khashoggi’s disappearance, arguing the US relies on the kingdom in the fight against “terrorism”.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said “I do not want to do that” when asked if the US would walk away from its Gulf ally.

He added that the kingdom has “a tremendous order, $110bn”, referring to the promised US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo: US takes Khashoggi case ‘seriously’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US takes Khashoggi’s disappearance “seriously” and needs to know the facts behind the case before it can formulate an appropriate response.

Pompeo made the comments to journalists after leaving Turkey during a quick visit that included a talk with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Pompeo said Erdogan “made clear that the Saudis had cooperated with the investigation that the Turks are engaged in and they are going to share information”.


Khashoggi case brings new scrutiny on Saudi Arabia over Yemen war


Turkish investigators enter Saudi consul’s home

A team of Turkish investigators entered the Saudi consul’s Istanbul residence as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier that Turkish officials hoped to enter the consulate on Wednesday. Turkish police entered the Saudi consulate on Monday for the first time since Khashoggi’s disappearance two weeks ago, searching the premises for nine hours.

Saudi investigation team arrives at consul’s Istanbul residence

An 11-member Saudi investigation team arrived at the Saudi consul’s Istanbul residence on Wednesday, according to CNN Turk, ahead of an expected search by Turkish police in relation to Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder.

Turkish FM Cavusoglu previously had said Turkey hopes to enter the residence on Wednesday.

Turkish police were expected to search the residence on Tuesday but officers at the scene said it was called off for the day because Saudi officials were unable to join.

German FM delays decision on trip to Saudi Arabia

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would delay a decision on whether to go through with a planned visit to Saudi Arabia until Riyadh had given more clarity on Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Maas said the trip, which had been intended as part of a push to repair strained relations with the desert kingdom, made no sense in the context of concerns over the fate of Khashoggi, whom Turkish authorities believe was murdered.

“We had planned a visit in the context of the dialogue with Saudi Arabia. We will wait on that now,” Maas said at a Berlin news conference.

“The Saudi side plans a statement [on the affair], and we will use that as a basis for deciding whether a trip makes sense at the current time.”

French banking executive cancels Saudi trip

Federic Oudea, the chief executive of French bank Societe Generale has cancelled his attendance at the ‘Davos in the Desert’ investment conference to be held later this month, a spokesman for the bank confirmed.

Oudea’s cancellation comes a day after BNP Paribas Chairman Jean Lemierre had also cancelled his attendance at this month’s conference in Riyadh.

Numerous business executives and journalists have pulled out of the conference amid widespread concern about Khashoggi.

Meeting with Pompeo ‘fruitful’: Turkish FM

Pompeo met with both Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Erdogan in separate meetings that each lasted roughly 40 minutes.

Cavusoglu said dialogue with Pompeo was “beneficial and fruitful”, according to reports from Turkey.

Khashoggi’s disappearance, along with issues in Syria and US-Turkish relations, were discussed in the meetings, the FM said.

Cavusoglu also said a search at the Saudi consul general residence did not happen Tuesday but the team hopes to enter today.

Pompeo meets with Erdogan

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has landed in Turkey to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing.

A meeting between Turkish President Erdogan and Pompeo has begun in Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, according to reports. 

Pompeo was previously in Saudi Arabia for meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MBS. 

The US top diplomat said the kingdom has made a “serious commitment” to hold senior leaders and officials accountable in the case of missing journalist Khashoggi, if any wrongdoing is discovered.

As the meeting began, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Turkish authorities are waiting for a joint agreement to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi’s alleged murder is thought to have taken place. 

‘Guilty until proven innocent’: Trump condemns accusations

In his strongest statement yet backing Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump criticised rapidly mounting global condemnation of Riyadh over the mystery of the missing journalist.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault levelled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”

Trump’s remarks were his most robust defence yet of the Saudis, a US ally he has made central to his Middle East agenda. The comments put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the Khashoggi case.

Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.


Who killed Jamal Khashoggi?


After Khashoggi’s disappearance, there has been mounting criticism of some of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s moves.

These include Riyadh’s involvement in the war in Yemen, the arrest of women activists, and a diplomatic dispute with Canada. The kingdom also denied an assertion by France that it held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri captive in November 2017.

Despite Western concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Trump still says he is unwilling to pull out of multi-billion-dollar weapons sales deals with Riyadh.

Suspects linked to crown prince: report

Four suspects identified by Turkey in Khashoggi’s disappearance are tied to Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, The New York Times reports.

One is a frequent companion of the powerful crown prince and the three others are linked to his security detail, the report said.

Turkish government sources have said police believe the journalist was killed by a special team of 15 Saudi operatives sent to Istanbul especially for the assassination. Riyadh insists Khashoggi left the consulate safely.

The Times said it confirmed at least nine of the 15 worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries.

The newspaper said it gathered more information about the suspects through facial recognition software, a database of Saudi mobile phone numbers, leaked Saudi government documents, witnesses and media.

One suspect, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi embassy in London in 2007, it said, citing a British diplomatic roster.

Mutreb has been photographed emerging from planes with Prince Mohammed on recent trips to Madrid and Paris, the newspaper reported.

He was also photographed standing guard during the crown prince’s visits in the United States to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

Pompeo: ‘Credible’ investigation by Saudi officials

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Saudi Arabia has made a “serious commitment” to hold senior leaders and officials accountable in the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if any wrongdoing is discovered.

Pompeo was in Saudi Arabia for meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He offered his assessment after talks with the Saudi leadership, and said the crown prince again denied any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

Pompeo’s statement said the Saudis acknowledged something had happened to the missing journalist, but were not specific.

The crown prince “conveyed that a serious and credible investigation is already under way. He pledged that the work of the Saudi public prosecutor will produce a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see”, it said.

“They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable. They were very clear. They understand the importance of this issue they are determined to get to the bottom of it. They each promised they would achieve that for us,” said Pompeo.  


Who was murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi?


He visits Turkey before arriving late on Wednesday back in the US to deliver his report to President Donald Trump.

G7 calls for ‘transparent’ probe in Khashoggi case

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven called for a “transparent” probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance.    

“We remain very troubled by the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account,” said a statement by Canada, which currently holds the presidency of the group of industrial democracies.

“We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent and prompt investigation, as announced.”

IMF chief Lagarde to skip Saudi conference

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has deferred a planned trip to the Middle East, which included a stop in Riyadh to attend an investment conference.

On Saturday, Lagarde told a news conference in Indonesia she did not intend to change her travel plans but was “horrified” by media reports about the disappearance of the Saudi journalist.

“The Managing Director’s previously scheduled trip to the Middle East region is being deferred,” an IMF spokesperson said in a statement, without giving a reason for the decision.

Muqtada al-Sadr calls out Trump over Khashoggi

Iraq’s populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accused President Donald Trump of feigning concern over Khashoggi’s disappearance while ignoring other forms of injustice.

Sadr called Trump a “Pharaoh” and “tyrant” who speaks out about injustice when it suits him.

The message, published by his office on Tuesday, appeared critical of Saudi Arabia as well at a time when Iraq’s politicians are finding themselves courted by the Gulf state and its rival, Iran.

Saudis still have $6m lobbying payroll despite departures

Saudi Arabia is paying influential lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations experts nearly $6m a year to engage US officials and promote the Gulf kingdom, even after three Washington firms cut ties after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The figure comes from records filed with the Justice Department that provide details of agreements with the Saudi embassy and other arms of its government.

The Saudis are spending heavily in Washington as a bitter political dispute simmers in the Middle East that pits the kingdom and three other Arab nations against Qatar over claims it funds “terrorism” and is close to regional rival Iran – accusations Doha vehemently denies.

More business defections are possible as pressure mounts on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday [Leah Millis via AP]

Tuesday, October 16

Trump speaks to MBS, says answers coming ‘shortly’

US President Donald Trump says he spoke with Mohammed bin Salman and the crown prince “totally denied” any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

In a tweet, Trump said the crown prince told him the Saudis would rapidly expand an investigation into the matter. Answers will be coming “shortly”, the president said.

Trump told Fox Business Network it “would be bad” if King Salman or bin Salman knew about any operation against Khashoggi.

“It depends whether or not the king or the crown prince knew about it, in my opinion, number one, what happened, but whether or not they knew about it. If they knew about it that would be bad,” Trump said according to an excerpt from the interview.

Saudi consul’s residence will not be searched

Turkish investigators will not search the residence of the Saudi consul in Istanbul on Tuesday. Police said the search was called off because Saudi officials were not able to join.

Saudi consul-general leaves for Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s Consul-General in Istanbul Mohammad al-Otaibi left Turkey for Riyadh, Anadolu news agency reported citing diplomatic sources.

His departure comes as Turkish and Saudi officials are preparing to search al-Otaibi’s residence, Turkish foreign ministry officials said.

US: Pompeo, MBS back Khashoggi probe

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at their meeting “agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers” to Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to a US statement.

“The secretary reiterated the president’s concern with respect to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, as well as the president’s desire to determine what happened,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said of the meeting that took place in Saudi Arabia.

US Senator Graham: MBS is toxic, has got to go

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is on the US Armed Services Committee, told Fox News he is certain Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about an alleged Saudi operation to kill Khashoggi.

“I know this, nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it… I think he’s on a bad track. I can never do business with Saudi Arabia again until we get this behind us…That means I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy’s in charge.”

Asked if he feels if bin Salman should step aside, Graham said: “It’s up to them, but I’m not going, I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate.

“This guy is a wrecking ball, he had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey, and to expect me to ignore it. I feel used and abused. I was on the floor every time defending Saudi Arabia because there’s a good ally.

“There’s a difference between a country and an individual. The MBS figure is, to me, toxic, he can never be a world leader on the world stage.”

Graham said he feels the US should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“It’s up to the president, but what I would do, I know what I’m going to do, I’m going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.

“We deal with bad people all the time but this is in our face. I feel personally offended, they have nothing but contempt for us. Why would you put a guy like me and the president in this box, after all the president has done?

“This guy has got to go. Saudi Arabia, if you are listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself.”

Turkish FM: Investigators could interview Saudi consulate officials

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said officials investigating the Khashoggi case may ask for testimony from staff at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul if deemed necessary but that no restrictions on travel had been placed on the kingdom’s diplomats in Turkey.

Cavusoglu told reporters at a press conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara, that US counterpart Mike Pompeo would share any information gathered regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance during his ongoing visit to Saudi Arabia with Turkish officials.

Khashoggi was last seen entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Banks announce boycott of Saudi business summit

The leaders of HSBC, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered have pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, scheduled to begin in Riyadh on October 23.

Chief executives John Flint, Tidjane Thiam and Bill Winters are the latest high-profile business figures to boycott the event in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.

On Monday, Google announced that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not be attending the business conference.

Pompeo thanks Saudi King Salman

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Saudi monarch King Salman for his commitment to a “thorough and transparent” investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

During face-to-face talks in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, Pompeo reportedly reiterated the US’ concern over the fate of the Saudi writer and critic, who was last seen entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Erdogan: Investigators searched for ‘toxic materials’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the possibility that parts of the consulate had been repainted since Khashoggi disappeared.

“The investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” he told reporters.

A Turkish security official said no conclusive evidence emerged from the overnight search that indicated Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.

“However, there are some findings and they are being worked on,” he said, adding that painting may have damaged some evidence. “These can’t be fully erased after all, so the teams will continue to work on this.”

Erdogan also said he hoped a reasonable opinion would be reached as soon as possible, Reuters news agency reported.

Saudi consul’s Istanbul home to be searched

An official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the home of Saudi Arabia’s consul in Istanbul will be searched as part of ongoing investigations into the Khashoggi case, AP news agency reported.

UN rights chief calls on Saudi Arabia to waive immunity

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on Saudi Arabia and Turkey on Tuesday to reveal all information they had on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

“Two weeks is a very long time for the probable scene of a crime not to have been subjected to a full forensic investigation,” Bachelet said in a statement.

“Under international law, both a forced disappearance and an extra-judicial killing are very serious crimes, and immunity should not be used to impede investigations into what happened and who is responsible,” she added.

Pompeo touches down in Riyadh

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has landed in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, for talks with King Salman over the Khashoggi case.

Pompeo will also meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported, quoting an unnamed US official.

Pompeo’s arrival in Riyadh followed a 20-minute phone call between King Salman and US President Donald Trump on Monday.

Turkish police leave Saudi consulate

A team of Turkish police investigating Khashoggi’s disappearance has left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish police investigators entered the premises late on Monday.

A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said a joint Turkish-Saudi team would search the consulate – the last place Khashoggi was seen before he vanished on October 2.

The results of the investigation will be released in two to three days, the prosecutor’s office said.

Monday, October 15

Google drops out of Saudi economic conference

Alphabet Inc’s Google announced on Monday that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not attend a business conference in Saudi Arabia scheduled to take place later this month.

The announcement came after several other business leaders – including representatives from Uber, Virgin, JP Morgan, Mastercard, The World Bank and Ford – also said they would boycott the conference, officially known as the Future Investment Initiative, which is scheduled to start on October 23.

NY Times: Saudi to blame ‘incompetent’ spy for Khashoggi killing

The New York Times reports the Saudi royal court will soon put out a narrative that an official within the kingdom’s intelligence services – who happens to be a friend of Prince Mohammed – carried out Khashoggi’s killing.

Trump accused of siding with Saudi in Khashoggi ‘murder’ case

According to that narrative, the crown prince approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, but the intelligence official was tragically incompetent as he eagerly sought to prove himself. He then tried to cover up the botched handling of the situation.

CNN earlier reported a similar story. Both reports cited anonymous people said to be familiar with the Saudi plans.

Trump said he could not confirm such reports. “I’ve heard that report but nobody’s knows if it’s an official report. So far it’s just the rumour, the rumour of a report coming out,” he said.

The Times reported the theory was widely dismissed among Khashoggi’s friends , human rights defenders, and some US politicians.

Azzam Tamimi, a Khashoggi friend, called the “rogue” theory “disastrous” for the credibility of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The Turks have leaked so much that it is inconceivable that they would settle for less than telling the world exactly what happened,” said Tamimi.

David Hearst, editor of the Middle East Eye, said the “interrogation-gone wrong” story “really doesn’t hold water”, considering the 15-member assassination team that has been identified consisted of special forces – not interrogators.

“This is not the team you send to interrogate or even kidnap someone,” Hearst told Al Jazeera.

“What is happening is the Saudi story is crumbling, and crumbling very quickly. And now there’s an attempt to build a firewall around [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman and the king.”

Trump suggests ‘rogue killers’ murdered Saudi journalist

President Donald Trump suggested “rogue killers” could be responsible for Khashoggi’s mysterious disappearance, an explanation offering US ally Saudi Arabia a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.

The Saudis continued to deny they killed the writer, but there were indications the story could soon change.

Trump spoke after a personal 20-minute phone call with Saudi King Salman and as the president dispatched his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to Riyadh for a face-to-face discussion with the king on Tuesday.

Trump quoted the king as saying neither he nor his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had any information about what had happened to Khashoggi.

“The king [Salman] firmly denied any knowledge of it,” Trump told reporters of Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

“It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. I mean, who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.”

Khashoggi family demands international probe

A statement released by Khashoggi’s relatives is urging an internationally recognised investigation into his whereabouts.

“As we await definitive answers and facts from multiple ongoing investigations, we believe it is imperative to launch an independent, impartial, and internationally recognised investigation in order to provide us – and the many who loved him – with much needed clarity and resolution,” it said. 

Turkish prosecutors find ‘evidence of killing’

Turkish authorities say prosecutors have found evidence that supports suspicions Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A source at the attorney-general’s office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera “they have found evidence that supports their suspicions that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate”, correspondent Jamal Elshayyal reported from Istanbul. 

“This is a significant step forward after several days of an impasse,” he said. 

The attorney-general’s office also said their team inside the consulate found evidence of “tampering”, Elshayyal added.

The results of the investigation would be released in two to three days, the prosecutors office said.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, citing two unnamed sources.

One source cautioned that a report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said. The other source said the report would likely conclude the operation was carried out without clearance and those involved will be held responsible, the American news outlet said.

Jamal Khashoggi, Mohammed bin Salman and the media | The Listening Post

US ‘ready to assist’ in Khashoggi probe

The US National Security Council released a statement demanding a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“It is absolutely essential that Turkish authorities, with full and transparent support from the government of Saudi Arabia, are able to conduct a thorough investigation and officially release the results of that investigation when concluded.

“We support Turkish investigators’ efforts and are not going to prejudge the outcome of the official investigation. We stand ready to assist.”

Turkish investigators enter Saudi consulate

Turkish police investigators entered Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate, nearly two weeks after the disappearance of Khashoggi.

A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said that a joint Turkish-Saudi team would conduct a search of the consulate.

Trump speaks with Saudi King Salman

Donald Trump said on Twitter that he has spoken with King Salman, who “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened” to Jamal Khashoggi. He also said he would send his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to meet with the Saudi king “immediately”. 

Pompeo, hurriedly sent to Riyadh, is expected to get more clarity during talks with Saudi leaders on Tuesday. The White House expects credible answers quickly after Pompeo wraps up his trip with a stop in Ankara for meetings with senior Turkish officials.

Turkish officials to search Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Turkish investigators will search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Monday afternoon, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said according to AP news agency.

For the last week, authorities have sought to enter the Saudi consulate, the place where Khashoggi was last seen before his disappearance according to CCTV footage.

After entering the consulate two weeks ago, Khashoggi disappeared, leading Turkey to claim the journalist was murdered by Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia has denied all allegations.

How will Saudi deal with its stock market plunge?

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is hitting the Saudi economy, with stocks plunging almost 7 percent in early trading on Sunday, wiping out all the gains it had made since the start of the year.

The fall came after US President Donald Trump threatened “severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, but Riyadh warned it would retaliate if economic sanctions are imposed on it.

What was dubbed “Davos in the desert” is supposed to promote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform vision for the Kingdom.

So, where does that leave all his plans?

Bahrain FM backs boycott of Uber after company pulls out of event

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has voiced his support for a boycott of ride-hailing app Uber over the Khashoggi case.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said he would not attend a business conference in the kingdom’s ally Saudi Arabia because of its alleged involvement in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

On Twitter, Al Khalifa called for a boycott of Uber in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, following similar responses to Uber’s withdrawal in Saudi Arabia.

Similarly, a prominent Emirati businessman called for the boycott of Virgin after its CEO Richard Branson cancelled on the Saudi economic conference.

“Now it is time for GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) to prove their loyalty by boycotting Virgin and Uber and all the companies pulling out of KSA… Together we can prove our unity and that we cannot be bullied,” Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor said on Twitter.

Economic concerns grow for Saudi, global economy

The sell-off on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange shows investors are uneasy, analysts say.

The exchange dropped by more than 500 points, then clawed back some of the losses, ending Sunday down 264 points, or more than four percent. Of 188 stocks traded on the exchange, 179 ended the day with a loss.

“Something this big would definitely spook investors, and Saudi just opened up for foreign direct investment, so that was big,” said Issam Kassabieh, a financial analyst at Dubai-based firm Menacorp Finance.

“Investors do not feel solid in Saudi yet, so it’s easy for them to take back their funds.”

Neem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets, said the unstable political situation would likely continue to frighten investors away.

“This will become a major concern. If entrepreneurs at these levels decide to cut ties or pullback from investments in Saudi Arabia, the stock market is going to have a huge reaction… Uncertainty for FDI [foreign direct investment] is the worst thing that can happen to any country,” he told Al Jazeera.

Oil as a weapon? Prominent Saudi writer suggests it could be

A column by the general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested Saudi Arabia could use its oil production as a weapon if the US were to impose sanctions over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Benchmark Brent crude is trading at about $80 a barrel, and US President Donald Trump has criticised OPEC and Saudi Arabia over rising prices.

“If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure,” Turki Aldakhil wrote.

It’s unclear, however, whether Saudi Arabia would be willing to unilaterally cut production.

“The truth is that if Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh,” said Aldakhil.

Saudi dissident believes Riyadh tapped calls with Khashoggi

A Saudi dissident in Canada believes the kingdom hacked his phone and listened to calls he had with Jamal Khashoggi prior to the journalist’s disappearance.

“For sure, they listened to the conversation between me and Jamal and other activists, in Canada, in the [United] States, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia,” Omar Abdulaziz said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

A report published recently by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab concluded that Saudi authorities were “very likely” responsible for hacking his phone with powerful spyware sold only to governments.

Abdulaziz said he was working on several projects with Khashoggi in recent months, including a campaign to counter Riyadh’s pro-government propaganda on social media.

Khashoggi “promised me to sponsor the project and I guess they could listen in to those conversations”, he said. “His voice was a headache for the Saudi government.”

Morgan and Ford cancel plans for Saudi investor event

JP Morgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford cancelled plans to attend a Saudi investor conference, the latest such high-profile announcements after Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The cancellations could add pressure on other American firms such as Goldman Sachs Group, Mastercard, and Bank of America to reconsider their plans to attend the high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert”.

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh later this month and did not comment on whether concerns about Khashoggi were a factor.

Business barons – including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as well as media powerhouses like Bloomberg and CNN – have all pulled out.

The absence of media and technology executives is likely to cast a shadow over the three-day event, which has become the biggest show for investors to promote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform vision.

People hold signs during a protest at the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC over Khashoggi’s disappearance [Jacquelyn Martin/AP]

Sunday, October 14

Erdogan, King Salman stress importance of joint working group 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia spoke by telephone and discussed the investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi, according to Turkish presidential sources.

They said the leaders stressed the importance of their two countries creating a joint working group as part of the investigation. The king thanked Erdogan for welcoming the Saudi proposal for the joint group and said no one could undermine their relationship.

Egypt supports Saudi efforts on Khashoggi

Egypt said it was following with concern the case of Khashoggi’s disappearance and called for a transparent investigation into the matter.

“Egypt stresses the importance of revealing the truth of what happened in a transparent investigation,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.

Cairo warned against those who sought to exploit the incident politically against Saudi Arabia and stressed its support for Riyadh’s efforts to deal with the situation.

Britain to determine course of action if Saudi proven guilty

The UK’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said Britain would have to think about the appropriate response if it were proven that Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“I don’t want to get drawn into hypotheticals because we don’t know the facts yet, but we have been very, very clear that if these stories are true, that would be totally appalling and we would have to think about the appropriate way to react in that situation,” Hunt told British television. 

Saudi thanks US for showing caution in Khashoggi case 

Saudi Arabia thanked countries, including the United States, for “refraining from jumping to conclusions” over the fate of the missing journalist. 

The Saudi embassy in Washington issued a tweet to clarify an earlier statement in which Saudi Arabia said it would retaliate to international pressure or sanctions with greater measures. 

UK, France, Germany call for ‘credible investigation’ 

The United Kingdom, France and Germany have called on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to mount a “credible investigation” into the disappearance of Khashoggi, adding they were treating the case with “utmost seriousness”. 

“There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and – if relevant – to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account,” foreign ministers from the three countries said in a joint statement.

“We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities.”

US Treasury Secretary to attend upcoming Saudi summit 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is still planning to attend the three-day Future Investment Initiative scheduled to take place on October 23, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Mr Mnuchin will make up his mind as the week progresses and as new information surfaces,” Kudlow said.

His comments came shortly after Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN’s State of the Union he believes Mnuchin should boycott the event.

Senator Rubio: ‘US must take action’ 

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the US had to react in response to Khashoggi’s disappearance or face losing its reputation on human rights. 

“If we do not take action, including potentially arms sales, as a result of this, if it turns out to be what they say it is, then we are not going to be able to with a straight face or any credibility confront Putin or Assad or Maduro in Venezuela or frankly confront the Chinese and their human rights violations,” Rubio said on Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

Saudi Arabia vows retaliation against possible sanctions

Riyadh dismissed threats of sanctions over the disappearance of Khashoggi and vowed Saudi Arabia would retaliate against such action.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure,” an official source said, quoted by state news agency SPA.

“The kingdom also affirms that it will respond to any action with a bigger one,” the source said.

Saudi stocks tumble as pressure mounts

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) lost more than 500 points on the first trading day of the week on Sunday, wiping out all the gains it had made since the start of the year.

TASI is the largest Arab bourse and has shed almost $50bn of its capital value, dropping to $450bn.

Khashoggi’s fiancee calls for ‘accountability’

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, has called for accountability if reports of his murder are true.

In an op-ed written for The New York Times, Cengiz said if allegations are proven true, the loss of Khashoggi impacts “every person with a conscience and moral compass.

“If we have already lost Jamal, then condemnation is not enough. The people who took him from us, irrespective of their political positions, must be held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law,” she wrote.

Cengiz, who was invited to the White House by Trump, said she would “consider accepting” such an invitation if the US president helped reveal the truth of what happened to Khashoggi.

US, UK may boycott Riyadh conference

US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, and the UK’s International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, may not attend the “Davos in the Desert”, a major investment conference in Riyadh, over concerns that Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s reported death.

The officials’ possible boycott was confirmed to the BBC by “diplomatic sources”.

If Mnuchin and Fox decide to boycott the Future Investment Initiative conference, they will join investors such as Richard Branson and journalists from The Economist, CNBC and The New York Times, who pulled out of the conference in Riyadh on Friday amid growing concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Saturday, October 13

Trump pessimistic about Khashoggi’s fate

Trump says he will probably call Saudi King Salman tonight or tomorrow about Khashoggi, adding that the case is “not looking too good”.

Trump also said the US would be “punishing itself” if it halts military sales to Saudi Arabia, even if it is proven that Khashoggi was killed inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey urges Saudis to allow consulate search

Turkey’s top diplomat has reiterated a call to Saudi Arabia to allow Turkish authorities to enter the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. 

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Saudi Arabia had not yet cooperated with Turkey on the search for Khashoggi. He said that Turkish “prosecutors and technical friends must enter” the consulate “and Saudi Arabia must cooperate with us on this”.

Trump: ‘Severe punishment’ if Saudi killed Khashoggi

US President Donald Trump said in a CBS interview that there would be “severe punishment” for Saudi Arabia if it turns out that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump said in an interview for 60 Minutes that there was much at stake with Khashoggi case, “maybe especially so” because he was a journalist.

‘Trump’s rhetoric encourages attacks on press’: IPI

Daoud Kuttab, a board member at the International Press Institute, an organisation promoting press freedom globally, said US President Donald Trump’s tirades against journalists and claims of “fake news” encourage leaders elsewhere to clamp down on press freedom.

“The rhetoric coming out of the White House, coming out of the president, attacks daily on news as being fake news gives the permission to autocratic leaders to take out their own opposition and independent journalists,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Leaders around the world, and especially autocratic leaders, watch the White House and the president carefully. When the president of the US says that journalists are the enemies of the people, that’s music to their ears and the feel like they can get a green light or a yellow light from America to do what they want [to] their own journalists,” he said.

UN chief concerned over attacks on journalists

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed fears that enforced disappearances are set to become the “new normal”.

Speaking to the BBC at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Bali, Guterres said governments must respond appropriately once a “clear answer” on what happened to Khashoggi emerges. 

“I must say I am feeling worried [at] this apparent new normal,” he said.

Members of UK Parliament call for ‘thorough investigation’

Several members of the British Houses of Parliament have written a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Jeremy Hunt, calling for a “thorough investigation” into the Khashoggi case.

“Clearly this is a very concerning case, with serious implications for the future of Saudi Arabia and her relations with liberal democracies worldwide,” a letter written by Mark Menzies, chair of the all-party parliamentarian group on Saudi Arabia wrote in a letter.

“The UK must call for a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, and stand ready to support all authorities in their inquiries,” Menzies continued.

The letter was signed by 13 MPs.

Trump to call King Salman

US President Donald Trump has said he will address Khashoggi’s disappearance in a phone call with Saudi’s King Salman, after confirming he had not talked to any of the country’s officials yet regarding the case. 

“I will be calling, at some point, King Salman, I’ll be speaking to him pretty soon,” Trump said.

“We’re gonna find out what happened with respect to the terrible situation in Turkey having to do with Saudi Arabia and the reporter,” he told reporters in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday.

While avoiding questions of what the conversation would be like, Trump did say that the Saudis and others are looking “very hard and very fast” into what happened to Khashoggi.

“It is potentially a really, really terrible situation,” he said.

Smartwatch recorded Khashoggi’s last moments: report

According to Turkish authorities, Jamal Khashoggi’s smartwatch could potentially play an important factor in solving the disappearance and alleged murder of the Saudi journalist.

The authorities have said Khashoggi’s smartwatch recorded audio of his meeting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which was then sent to a phone he gave his fiancee ahead of his meeting.

Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported on Saturday that Khashoggi’s alleged interrogation, torture and murder were recorded in the watch’s memory. 

Sabah, which cited “reliable sources in a special intelligence department” for its report, said Khashoggi was believed to have turned on the recording feature on the phone before entering the consulate.

Some technology analysts have expressed doubt at the veracity of the report, Alp Toker, from digital rights group Netblocks.org told Al Jazeera on Saturday that it was not clear if Khashoggi’s watch had syncing capabilities or if the other devices were within range at the time.

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but looking at the facts of the situation, it is quite difficult to see the conditions when this could have happened,” he said. 

IMF managing director to attend conference in Riyadh

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said she will attend a high profile economic conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, despite criticising the Saudi government for their alleged involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“Human rights and freedom of information are essential rights,” Lagarde said. “Horrifying things have been reported, and I am horrified but I have to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners of the world.”

“When I visit a country I always speak my mind, so at this point in time I will not change my plan.”

On Friday, several key attendees of the investment conference, including the heads of Uber, CNN and FT, who said they will not be part of the event.

Saudi interior minister denies all allegations

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz has denied allegations regarding the disappearance and alleged murder of Khashoggi.

He said that allegations about orders to murder Khashoggi were “lies” targeting the government, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Friday, October 12

Saudi investment conference to go on: Spokesperson 

A spokesperson for the Future Investment Initiative set to take place in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 23 said the event will move ahead as planned. 

“While it is disappointing that some speakers and partners have pulled out, we are looking forward to welcoming thousands of speakers, moderators and guests from all over the world to Riyadh from Oct. 23-25,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

Several US media organisations and business leaders have withdrawn from the conference over the disappearance and suspected murder of Khashoggi. 

France’s Macron: Khashoggi’s disappearance ‘extremely worrying’ 

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “extremely worried” about the Saudi journalist’s disappearance. 

“I am waiting for the truth and complete clarity to be established,” Macron said in an interview with France 24. “What’s being mentioned is serious, very serious […] France wants everything to be done so that we have all the truth on this case of which the first elements are extremely worrying.” 

Macron said he will take a final stance once the facts are established and would discuss the matter with leaders from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. 

CNN, FT withdraw from Saudi event

CNN and The Financial Times became the latest media agencies to drop out of a Saudi investment conference on Friday.

They join journalists from The Economist, CNBC and The New York Times, who pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh earlier on Friday amid growing concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was still planning to attend the conference. 

“If more information comes out and changes, we can look at that, but I am planning on going,” he told CNBC.

France joins calls for Saudi transparency

France’s foreign ministry said on Friday that it had asked Saudi Arabian authorities to provide detailed answers over the question of what happened to Khashoggi.

“The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul … has raised serious questions about his fate. France asks that the facts be clearly established and that all those who can contribute to the truth fully contribute to it,” Agnes Von der Muhll, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said in a statement.

“This is the message we passed to Saudi authorities. The charges brought against them require that they be transparent and provide a complete and detailed response”.

Saudi delegation arrives in Ankara

A delegation from Saudi Arabia has arrived in the Turkish capital, Ankara, for an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to two Turkish sources cited by the country’s Anadolu news agency.

Turkish state media also reported the arrival.

The visit follows an announcement on Thursday that Turkey had accepted a Saudi proposal to launch joint investigations into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Amnesty International calls for transparency from Saudi Arabia

Rights group Amnesty International has called for Saudi Arabia to reveal Khashoggi’s “fate and whereabouts at this time”.

“The responsibility is clear for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said MENA Regional Director, Heba Morayef.

During a press conference on Friday, which covered several regional issues, including the war in Syria, Morayef said the possibility of Khashoggi being forcibly disappeared was worrying.

“It is during enforced disappearances that torture happens and that killings can happen so [this is] at the minimum an enforced disappearance and – if it’s true that he was assassinated inside the embassy – then [Saudi Arabia] would also be responsible for extrajudicial executions,” she said.

Audio, video recordings prove Khashoggi killed inside consulate: report

US and Turkish officials told The Washington Post there are audio and video recordings proving Khashoggi was tortured and murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Video recordings show a Saudi assassination team seizing the journalist after he walked in on October 2. He was then killed and his body dismembered, the officials told the Post – the newspaper that Khashoggi wrote for as a columnist.

The audio was particularly gruesome, the sources said.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one official speaking anonymously because the intelligence is classified.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured, and then murdered.”

Another unnamed official confirmed men could be heard beating Khashoggi on the recording.

It was unclear how the Turkish and American officials obtained the recordings.

Security expert says Turkey likely has secret evidence of killing

David Katz, CEO of Global Security Group, told Al Jazeera the intelligence officials quoted by The Washington Post likely have audio and video that clandestinely recorded Khashoggi’s killing.

“There is clearly tension between the Saudis and the Turkish government, so that suggests Turkey is going to be directing its very considerable intelligence apparatus at everything to do with the Saudi government in Turkey for sure,” said Katz.

“So it’s very possible that they do in fact have audio and video recordings of things that have gone on inside the consulate, whether that was bugs planted or electronic intercepts. So you wouldn’t really need full forensics if you have evidence of that nature. And if the report in The Washington Post is correct, that’s apparently what they have.”

Katz said spies have “robust electronic devices” that can allow them to listen to what’s going on inside buildings from outside.

“You’ll actually hear what happened, you’ll hear the voices. There was a suggestion there was an interrogation followed by a very brutal murder. If that’s the case – and if that’s on audio and/or videotape – you don’t need anything else. That’s the case right there.”

Critical Saudi royal says he was targeted with plan to ‘disappear’ him

Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud, a Saudi prince living in exile in Germany, told The Independent that luring dissidents to meetings to “disappear” them is a common strategy used by Saudi leaders.

Al-Saud alleged Saudi officials plotted to abduct him days before Khashoggi vanished, adding that it was part of a plan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to keep adversaries quiet.

“Over 30 times the Saudi authorities have told me to meet them in the Saudi embassy, but I have refused every time,” al-Saud told the UK newspaper. 

“I know what can happen if I go into the embassy. Around 10 days before Jamal went missing, they asked my family to bring me to Cairo to give me a cheque. I refused.”

He said at least five Saudi royals last week approached the leadership in Riyadh about Khashoggi’s disappearance, and they were detained.

“Just five days ago a group tried to visit King Salman saying they were afraid for the future of the al-Saud family. They mentioned Mr Khashoggi’s case. They were all put in jail,” said Saud.

Everyone is “scared”, he added.

Media companies, journalists drop out of Saudi event

Media companies are pulling out of a Saudi investment conference because of growing outrage over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Economist Editor-In-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes will not participate in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, spokeswoman Lauren Hackett said in an email.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, a CNBC anchor and New York Times business journalist, tweeted he was not attending the conference, saying he was “terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder”.

The New York Times also decided to pull out of the event as a media sponsor, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.

The Financial Times said in a statement that it was reviewing its involvement as a media partner.

Virgin’s Branson halts talks on $1bn Saudi investment in space ventures

British billionaire Richard Branson said his Virgin Group would suspend its discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund over a planned $1bn investment in the group’s space ventures.

“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government,” Branson said in a statement.

Branson also said he would suspend his directorship in two Saudi tourism projects around the Red Sea, citing Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund said it planned to invest about $1bn in Branson’s space company, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.

“We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr Khashoggi,” Branson said on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its investigation of the journalist’s disappearance and that they were also working with Saudi Arabia.

TV show dedicated to Khashoggi

Prominent Palestinian-British activist and TV presenter Azzam Tamimi dedicated his show on Thursday night to his missing friend and fellow journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi writer was supposed to be a guest on the programme on the Alhiwar TV Channel to talk about his future projects. Instead, the studio featured a framed photograph of Khashoggi.

Tamimi said he saw Khashoggi in London after his first visit to the Saudi consulate and the day before his disappearance.

“Well, I was horrified because he assured me when we were in London that there was nothing to be concerned about. He said on Friday he had been to the consulate. They received him very well although they were initially surprised to see him and promised him that if he came back again a few days later, they would issue him the papers he was after.

“So he felt it was okay, but apparently they prepared a trap for him,” Tamimi said.

‘You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes’

US Senator Lindsey Graham told Al Jazeera that he has read US intelligence that points to the Saudi government’s involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“I’ve already seen the intel. It was very unnerving. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this out,” Graham said.

“If it turns out that this man was killed or mistreated by the Saudi government, we expect stuff like this from [Russian President Vladmir] Putin and we come down hard on him when he does it. So, everything we did to Putin, I want to do to Saudi Arabia,” Graham added.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Al Jazeera: “Everything that we know points to the Saudi government and yet none of us want to jump to conclusions. If I had to bet today, they ordered it, they killed him and probably very high-level people were aware of it.”

“We have got to send a signal early on that going around killing journalists is totally inappropriate and if he [Saudi crown prince] has been involved there’s got to be sanctions.”

A protester wears a mask of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman outside the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC [Jacquelyn Martin/AP]

Thursday, October 11

Saudi envoy returns to Riyadh 

Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington heads back to Riyadh to gather information on the whereabouts of Khashoggi. 

“I’m told that he’s headed back to his home country, and we expect some information when he gets back,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a media briefing. 

Turkish-Saudi team in joint probe  

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported a Turkish official as saying that Ankara and Riyadh will form a joint group to look into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Earlier in the day, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, warned against Saudi Arabia’s participation in the official probe.

“Given that Saudi Arabia will not provide any evidence about Khashoggi’s movements in and out of the consulate, they cannot be trusted to conduct a genuine – far less effective – investigation,” Whitson said. 

Istanbul’s public prosecutor said he would continue the current investigation separately. 

Turkey to make probe results public 

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has promised to share the results of the probe into the journalist’s disappearance. 

“We will share with the international community everything we will learn in the course of the investigation,” Cavusoglu said in a televised announcement during a trip to Iraq.

US Senator: Journalist’s death may merit sanctions at ‘highest level’

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said sanctions will be imposed at the “highest levels” of the Saudi leadership if Riyadh is found to have a hand in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“If it turns out to be what we think it is today but don’t know, there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels,” the Republican senator said. 

Trump: No reason to stop Saudi investments 

US President Donald Trump said he saw no reason to block Saudi Arabian investments in the US despite concern over Khashoggi’s disappearance, saying the Gulf nation would then just move its money into Russia and China.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, also said the US was expecting a report soon on the case, but gave no other details.

‘US must pressure Saudi’ – Marwan Bishara

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said Washington had to act and pressure the Saudis if it wanted to defend its credibility. 

“We cannot ignore the fact that there is huge public pressure brewing now in the United States, in Europe and indeed around the world,” Bishara said. 

“There is a moral aspect to it as well as an economic and geopolitical one. That’s why I said the only way for a win-win situation whereby the US can have the moral upper hand on this is by pressuring the Saudis which will allow them to continue the economic and military relationship with Riyadh.”

Trump: US assisting Turkish investigators 

The United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its investigation of the disappearance of Khashoggi, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday, adding that they are also working with Saudi Arabia.

“We’re being very tough. And we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey, and frankly, we’re working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Fox & Friends programme.

US senator calls for halt in Saudi arms sales

US Kentucky Senator Rand Paul demanded a halt in military support to Saudi Arabia until Khashoggi is “returned alive”.

In an article in The Atlantic, Paul said that he planned to introduce legislation to scrap “all funding, training, advising, and any other coordination” with the kingdom until they received confirmation that the journalist is alive.

“The regime must be held accountable for Jamal Khashoggi,” he said.

Erdogan: Turkey ‘cannot remain silent’ 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has increased pressure on Riyadh over the disappearance of Khashoggi, saying that Ankara ‘cannot remain silent to such an incident”.

Speaking to reporters as he returned from a visit to Hungary, Erdogan expressed disbelief at Saudi claims that Khashoggi disappeared without being picked up by security cameras after leaving the consulate.

“How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?” he said.

“If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and [I believe] they would have the most advanced of systems,” he said.

Erdogan added that the investigation by Turkey’s legal, security and intelligence bodies is ongoing.

Consular source heard screams and sounds of struggle

Turkish investigators have heard testimony from a source who was inside the Saudi consulate at the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance who claims to have heard sounds of a struggle, according to Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Istanbul.

“I have learned earlier that, among the evidence with the investigation is testimony from inside the consulate at the time that Jamal [Khashoggi] was there, which includes hearing sounds of loud screams and shouting, as well as calls for help and the sound of a struggle and then sudden silence,” he said.

Turkish foreign ministry sources denied to Al Jazeera that Saudis rescinded their authorisation for Turkish authorities to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The ministry’s remarks came after some media outlets claimed that Saudi Arabia cancelled an offer to allow Turkish authorities onto the premises after Turkish state-owned media published a list of the 15 Saudi nationals who allegedly arrived in Istanbul on the same day Khashoggi disappeared.

Turkish investigators are also requesting to search a number of vehicles registered to the consulate, along with the home of the consul general, which is a few hundred metres from the consulate, after a van with tinted windows was seen leaving the consulate and driving to the home a couple of hours after Khashoggi entered.

Titles of ‘assassination squad’ revealed

The identities of at least eight of the alleged 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” that Turkish authorities believe carried out Khashoggi’s assassination are beginning to come to light.

The head of the forensic unit in the Saudi defence forces, a former head of intelligence at the Saudi Arabian embassy in London and several special forces officers are among the group, which flew into Istanbul on Tuesday, October 2, Al Jazeera reports.

All 15 men had booked four nights in hotels near the Saudi consulate but left Turkey less than 24 hours after arriving.

Report: Prince Salman ordered Khashoggi operation 

The Washington Post reports Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself ordered an operation targeting Jamal Khashoggi.

Based on US intelligence intercepts, Saudi officials were heard discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi from the US state of Virginia, where he resides, back to Saudi Arabia where he would be detained, the newspaper said, citing unnamed US officials.

It was not clear to the officials with knowledge of the intelligence whether the Saudis discussed harming Khashoggi as part of the plan to capture him, it said.

His friends told the Post that Khashoggi had been approached by Saudi officials with close ties to the crown prince over the past four months with offers to reconcile and return to the kingdom, including being given a prominent role in the government.

The writer was sceptical of the offers, however.

“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,'” said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May.

Trump: Saudi assassination ‘looking a bit like that’

In comments made by President Donald Trump to an American TV network, the US president indicated the Saudis may have killed the critical Saudi journalist.

Asked in a telephone interview with Fox News Channel late on Wednesday whether the Saudis were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance or death, Trump said: “I guess you would have to say so far it’s looking a little bit like that, and we’re going to have to see.”

During the interview, Trump expressed reluctance to act on calls to withhold US arms sales to the kingdom, saying that US jobs and economic strength are tied to such trade deals.

“Part of that is what we’re doing with our defence systems and everybody’s wanting them. And frankly, I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you’re affecting us and, you know, they’re always quick to jump that way,” he said.

More than 20 Republican and Democratic senators instructed Trump to order an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance under legislation that authorises imposing sanctions on perpetrators of extrajudicial killings. 

American senators threaten arms sales repercussions

US Senator Chris Murphy said if Saudi Arabia had lured a US resident into a consulate and killed him, “it’s time for the United States to rethink our military, political and economic relationship with Saudi Arabia”.

Senator Rand Paul, a long-time critic of the Saudi government, said he’ll try to force a vote in the Senate this week blocking US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He said he wants to end arms shipments if there’s “any indication” the Saudis are “implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them”.

Karen Elliott House, a veteran writer on Saudi affairs and chairwoman of the board of trustees at RAND Corp, said US support for the Yemen war is likely to be the focus of congressional criticism, but it won’t endanger a relationship that has endured for decades, underpinned by shared strategic interests.

Even under the Obama administration, which had difficult relations with Riyadh compared with Trump, there were some $65bn in completed arms sales, she noted.

“The US-Saudi relationship is certainly not about shared moral values,” House said. “It’s about shared security interests.”

Saudi official condemns ‘malicious’ accusations

The Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, has described the allegations as “malicious leaks and grim rumours” and said the kingdom is “gravely concerned” about Khashoggi.

Saudi officials maintain he left the consulate shortly after entering, though it has failed to provide evidence to back that up, such as video footage.

Senior US officials call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The White House said National Security Advisor John Bolton and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner – Donald Trump’s son-in-law – spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi’s disappearance over the past two days.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed up with his own call to the crown prince, who has forged close ties to the Trump administration, especially Kushner.

“In both calls, they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

White House officials said the Saudis provided little information.

US senators trigger human rights probe

Twenty-two US senators signed a letter to President Donald Trump triggering a US investigation into whether human rights sanctions should be imposed on Saudi Arabi over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In the letter, the senators said they triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, requiring the president to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for a gross human rights violation.

“Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia,” the senators said.

Trump told reporters earlier he raised Khashoggi’s case with Saudi Arabia “at the highest level” and more than once in recent days.

“We want to see what’s going on. It’s a very serious situation for us and for this White House… We want to get to the bottom of it,” said Trump.

Wednesday, October 10

US adviser suspends Saudi role

Ernest Moniz, who served as President Barack Obama’s energy secretary, said he has suspended his role on the board of Saudi Arabia’s planned megacity NEOM until more is known about the fate of Khashoggi.

“I share the deep concerns of many about the disappearance and possible assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul,” Axios cited Moniz as saying.

Moniz is one of 18 people advising Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the $500bn NEOM project. 

Turkey and Saudi Arabia ‘in talks’

The New York Times writes that Saudi officials on Tuesday began for the first time to contact Turkish counterparts for secret talks about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“The Saudis have told Washington that they believe they can smooth over the issue, according to both Turkish and American officials briefed on the discussions,” the NYT wrote.

Khashoggi’s Apple watch 

A Turkish security official told Reuters news agency the Apple smartwatch Khashoggi was wearing at the time of his disappearance was being looked into by Turkish investigators. 

They said the watch was connected to a mobile phone Khashoggi left outside and security and intelligence agents in Turkey believe it may provide important clues as to Khashoggi’s whereabouts or what happened to him.

If the watch and phone were connected to the internet and the devices were close enough to synchronise, data from the watch – saved to the cloud – could potentially provide investigators with information such as the journalist’s heart rate and location.

“We have determined that it was on him when he walked into the consulate,” a security official said. “Intelligence services, the prosecutor’s office, and a technology team are working on this.”

Trump wants answers

President Donald Trump says the US is “demanding” answers from Saudi Arabia about Khashoggi and that he wants to bring his fiancee to the White House.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that he has a call in to Hatice Cengiz.

“People saw him go in and didn’t see him come out. We’re going to take a very serious look at it. It’s a terrible thing,” Trump said. “This is a bad situation. We cannot let this happen – to reporters, to anybody.”

Fifteen-member ‘hit squad’

Turkish media have published images of an alleged 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” and video of suspicious movements at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul following Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Saudi Arabia remained silent as the images, though not offering definitive proof about Khashoggi’s fate, played across television networks in Turkey and around the world.

Turkish media airs surveillance video

News channel 24, a private Turkish TV channel close to Erdogan, has aired surveillance video of Khashoggi walking into the Saudi consulate and a black van leaving later for the consul’s home.

The channel aired the video, suggesting that Khashoggi was inside of the black Mercedes Vito.

It said the van then drove some to the consul’s home, approximately 200 metres from the consulate, where it parked inside a garage.

Saudi Arabia did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Khashoggi’s fiancee writes letter to Trump

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, is asking Trump and first lady Melania to “help shed light” on his disappearance.

In a column published Wednesday by the Post, she wrote: “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.”

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