Jamal Khashoggi with fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
Jamal Khashoggi with fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

Saudis ‘to admit’ killing journalist

SAUDI Arabia is preparing a report that would admit Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, CNN reports, citing two unnamed sources.

There was also a suggestion they had intended to abduct Khashoggi and take him to Saudi Arabia.

One source cautioned that the report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said on Monday.

Jamal Khashoggi went missing on October 2. Picture: AP
Jamal Khashoggi went missing on October 2. Picture: AP

The other source said the report would likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and that those involved will be held responsible, the cable news outlet said.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump said he had sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia and raised the possibility that "rogue killers" could be behind the disappearance of Khashoggi, who vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey nearly two weeks ago.

It comes as Turkish and Saudi investigators on Monday were to begin conducting what Turkish officials called a joint "inspection" of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing nearly two weeks ago.

A team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate and said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building.

Mr Trump said King Salman of Saudi Arabia strongly denied that the kingdom had any connection to the missing journalist, whose writings were often highly critical of the ruling royal family, reports the New York Post.

"He didn't really know. Maybe I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers - I mean, who knows?" Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House as he headed to Florida to review hurricane damage.

He also said Mr Pompeo would be leaving for Saudi Arabia in the next hour, adding that "we're going to leave nothing uncovered."

Mr Trump said he impressed upon the king that Khashoggi's disappearance would be fully investigated.

"I said this is very important, the world is watching, the world is talking, it's very important to get to the bottom of it," Mr Trump said he told King Salman.

Turkish officials said they believe a 15-member Saudi hit team that arrived in Turkey from Riyadh on private jets on October 2, the same day Khashoggi vanished, travelled to the consulate, where they killed Khashoggi, dismembered his body and removed it from the country.

Saudi Arabia has called the accusations "baseless."

 

Earlier, Mr Trump announced in a tweet that he had talked to the king and that he "denies any knowledge" about what happened.

"Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened 'to our Saudi Arabian citizen.' He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr Trump's comments comes after Washington and Riyadh engaged in a war of words over the weekend about Khashoggi, a Saudi-born journalist who has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States for the past year.

Khashoggi, 59, who writes for the Washington Post, has said he feared being arrested as part of a crackdown on dissident voices by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday in the US, Mr Trump said if it turns out Saudi Arabia was behind Khashoggi's disappearance, "there will be severe punishment."

Turkish police officers enter the Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul. Picture: AP
Turkish police officers enter the Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul. Picture: AP

Saudi Arabia responded by promising to retaliate against any threats from the White House.

"The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations," the official state-run Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday.

"The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy," it continued.

 

- with the New York Post


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