Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

USA ramps up pressure on Saudis over missing journalist

USA ramps up pressure on Saudis over missing journalist

Dana Ahmed said that if reports about Khashoggi's murder are true, the incident would be "an abysmal new low" for human rights in Saudi Arabia.

"Would be nice to definitively rule out that the Saudis are paying the president massive bribes in exchange for tacit approval for murdering critics!"

The Washington Post reports that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered an "operation" against government supporter-turned-critic Jamal Khoshoggi, which would see him lured back to the kingdom and arrested.

This is the conclusion of Turkish officials as to the fate of Khashoggi, 59, who was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul October 2.

The Post quoted a Turkish official as saying authorities suspect a 15-member team killed the journalist at the consulate.

Why it matters: The leaking of the images appears aimed at turning up pressure on Riyadh to reveal what happened to Khashoggi as the weeklong saga threatens to grow into a major diplomatic row between the two countries.

The Washington Post cited several of Khashoggi's friends as saying that the prominent journalist had over the past months had been asked by senior Saudi officials close to return back home from the United States, offering him "protection" and "even a high-level job".

The Washington Post printed a blank column in its newspaper on October 5, in solidarity with Khashoggi titled "A missing voice" and called on Crown Prince Salman to ensure he "is free and able to continue his work". "Certainly doesn't look like he is around", Trump told "Fox and Friends".

It is said some of the men went into the Saudi consulate before Mr Khashoggi.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish media outlets published CCTV footage which they say shows evidence of a plot linked to Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

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But, on Sunday, Samantha teased her Twitter followers, writing, " Everybody would love to know what's in that letter ". Samantha previously called her sister the "DuchASS" and Prince Harry a "wuss".

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

Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have been personally close to Mohammed bin Salman, since turning to Saudi Arabia as a pivotal ally in the Middle East against Iran.

On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the Saudi Consulate to prove whether or not Khashoggi exited the building after entering, saying the consulate officials "can't get away with (simply) saying "he left the building". It was not clear, the report said, whether the Saudis meant to arrest and interrogate Mr. Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the US officials warned Mr. Khashoggi that he was a target. The wealthy former government insider had been living in the United States in self-imposed exile. Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, told the Post that Khashoggi had discussed these offers with them and said that he would never take an offer like this seriously.

Trump said nobody knows exactly what happened and expressed hope that Khashoggi is not dead. So far, I'm told, the Saudis haven't been co-operating - hence Ankara releasing the names of the alleged Saudi hit squad on Wednesday.

Mr Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation", but he did not disclose details of his conversations.

The Saudi government has denied any involvement in Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance.

According to the Washington Post, senior Saudi officials had called Khashoggi in the months before his disappearance, offering him protection if he returned to the country.

His critical reporting of his native country saw him fired twice from his role as editor-in-chief of Saudi's Al-Watan newspaper.

Turkish media have identified 15 Saudis, including some officials, who made a mysterious one-day trip from Riyadh to Istanbul the day Khashoggi vanished at the consulate.

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