Cabinet minister says Saudi explanation for death of journalist 'not credible'

22 October, 2018, 03:23 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • White House

Saudi officials said on Saturday that Washington Post columnist Khashoggi died in a fight in its Istanbul consulate.

"This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had".

But Trump defended Riyadh as an "incredible ally" and kept open the possibility that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto leader of the kingdom, did not order Saudi agents to kill Khashoggi. "There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top government figures have remained cautious in their public statements, stopping short of pinning the blame on Saudi Arabia and referring instead to the prosecutors' investigation.

"But we have to look at where the information has come in terms of this investigation, and I know that is what the Foreign Office is now doing".

Khashoggi has been the subject of news reports since his disappearance after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The evolving explanation comes 19 days after Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who had been critical of his country's current government, disappeared on October 2 after going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. King Salman has ordered Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to lead the charge of revamping the country's intelligence services.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded urgent clarification on Khashoggi's killing.

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"People fear them. You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened", he said.

A Saudi official has told ABC News that Jamal Khashoggi was killed when he was "placed in a chokehold position" to prevent him from leaving the country's consulate in Turkey and calling for help.

Before the Saudi announcements, Trump said he might consider sanctions although he has also appeared unwilling to distance himself too much from the Saudi leadership.

"We are not throwing our hands in the air and terminating the relationship with Saudi Arabia, not just because of the huge number of British jobs that depend on it but also because if you exert influence over your partners you need to be able to talk to them", he told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show.

Trump also said the Congress would have a role to play in it."We'll have very much Congress involved in determining what to do", he said. Speaking late Saturday after a campaign rally in Nevada, Trump said he needs to learn more about the killing and will be working with Congress on the USA response.

"Saudi Arabia's changing stories on #KhashoggiMurder is getting old". Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on NBC the Saudi ambassador to the US should be expelled until the matter is settled.

Britain, Germany, and France said the "hypotheses" proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.

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