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Saudi Arabia May Admit Missing Journalist Was Killed in Botched Interrogation and Abduction Operation, CNN Reports

Wednesday 17 October 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/turkey/investigation-team-enters-saudi-consulate-in-istanbul-where-journalist-vanished-1.6566512?utm_campaign=newsletter-breaking-news&utm_medium=email&utm_source=smartfocus&utm_content=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.haaretz.com%2Fmiddle-east-news%2Fturkey%2F.premium-investigation-team-enters-saudi-consulate-in-istanbul-where-journalist-vanished-1.6566512

Saudi Arabia May Admit Missing Journalist Was Killed in Botched Interrogation and Abduction Operation, CNN Reports

Saudi report will conclude that interrogation, likely carried out without clearance, was intended to lead to Jamal Khashoggi’s abduction, CNN says ■ Turkish investigative team leaves consulate after nine-hour probe

Reuters and The Associated Press

Oct 16, 2018 2:58 PM

Photo: Turkish police officers gather as they prepare to enter the Saudi consulate to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, Istanbul, Turkey, October 15, 2018.Emrah Gurel,AP

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

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

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According to CNN, the Saudi report will note that the interrogation was intended to lead to Khashoggi’s abduction from Turkey.

Photo: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, February 1, 2015.Hasan Jamali,AP

The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi government’s plans, reported the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved interrogating or even forcing Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, it said, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.

What we know so far about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi video here

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he had seen the report, but that “nobody knows” if this was an official report.

Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet King Salman over the case that has strained the Americans’ relationship with the Saudis, carefully cultivated by the U.S. president.

Members of Khashoggi’s family called for an investigation, in a statement released on Monday.

“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago,” they said.
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“The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death.”

A crime scene investigation team of around 10 people left the consulate after completing a search early on Tuesday, the witness said. The Turkish prosecutor assigned to the case has also left the consulate.

Four forensic vehicles arrived outside the consulate and took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden, the Reuters witness said. A police dog was part of the search team.

The team entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier on Monday for what Turkish officials called a joint inspection of the building where Khashoggi disappeared nearly two weeks ago.

The team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate and said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building. Police then pushed back journalists from the front of the consulate, where they’ve been stationed for days, setting up a new cordon to keep them away.

AP infographic here
AP infographic AP infographics

The makeup of the investigative team that entered the diplomatic compound was not immediately clear. International concern continues to grow over the writer’s October 2 disappearance. American lawmakers have threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain have jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

A Foreign Ministry official had earlier said the team would visit the diplomatic post Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. Officials in Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on October 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Such a search would be an extraordinary development, as embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the international community.

However, it remained unclear what evidence, if any, would remain nearly two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance. As if to drive the point home, a cleaning crew with mops, trash bags and cartons of milk walked in past journalists waiting outside the consulate on Monday.

President Trump said Saudi Arabia could face “severe punishment” if it was proven it was involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump tweeted Monday that he had spoken with Saudi King Salman, “who denies any knowledge” of what happened to Khashoggi.

“He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer,” Trump wrote. “I am immediately sending our Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) to meet with King!”

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia warned 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.”

“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,” said the statement, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The statement did not elaborate. However, a column published in English a short time later by the general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested Saudi Arabia could use its oil production as a weapon. Benchmark Brent crude is trading at around $80 a barrel, and Trump has criticized OPEC and Saudi Arabia over rising prices.

Saudi media followed on from that statement in television broadcasts and newspaper front pages Monday.

The Arabic-language daily Okaz wrote a headline on Monday in English warning: “Don’t Test Our Patience.” It showed a clenched fist made of a crowd of people in the country’s green color.

The Saudi Gazette trumpeted: “Enough Is Enough,” while the Arab News said: “Saudi Arabia ’will not be bullied.’”

The Arab News’ headline was above a front-page editorial by Dubai-based real-estate tycoon Khalaf al-Habtoor, calling on Gulf Arab nations to boycott international firms now backing out of a planned economic summit in Riyadh later this month.

“Together we must prove we will not be bullied or else, mark my words, once they have finished kicking the kingdom, we will be next in line,” al-Habtoor said.

Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert,” though it has no association with the World Economic Forum.

They include the CEO of Uber, a company in which Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars; billionaire Richard Branson; JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon; and Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

News that the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, would pull out of the conference drew angry responses across the region. The foreign minister of the neighboring island kingdom of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, tweeted Sunday night that there should be a boycott of the ride-hailing app both there and in Saudi Arabia.

Late Sunday, Saudi King Salman spoke by telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Khashoggi. Turkey said Erdogan “stressed the forming of a joint working group to probe the case.” Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, said King Salman thanked Erdogan “for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal” for forming the working group.

The king said Turkey and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations and “that no one will get to undermine the strength of this relationship,” according to a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency. While Turkey and the kingdom differ on political issues, Saudi investments are a crucial lifeline for Ankara amid trouble with its national currency, the Turkish lira.

Prince Mohammed, King Salman’s son, has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment. But Khashoggi’s disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative.

The Saudi stock exchange, only months earlier viewed as a darling of frontier investors, plunged as much as 7 percent at one point Sunday before closing down over 4 percent. On Monday, Riyadh’s Tadawul exchange closed up 4 percent.

Concerns appeared to spread Monday to Japan’s SoftBank, which has invested tens of billions of dollars of Saudi government funds. SoftBank was down over 7 percent in trading on Tokyo’s stock exchange.

Khashoggi has written extensively for the Post about Saudi Arabia, criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving. Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince.

°°°

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/16/middleeast/khashoggi-turkish-investigation-intl/index.html

A high-ranking Saudi officer with ties to the crown prince oversaw journalist’s deadly interrogation, sources say

By Tim Lister, Clarissa Ward and Peter Bergen, CNN

Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT) October 17, 2018

Video here 2:34

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: President Donald Trump meets Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

(CNN)A Saudi mission that resulted in the apparent death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul was organized by a high-ranking officer with the General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia’s main intelligence service, three sources familiar with the case told CNN.
One of those sources described the officer as close to the inner circle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It is unclear whether the crown prince authorized an interrogation, abduction or killing. Several officials CNN spoke with said the mission could not have happened without the direct knowledge of the 33-year-old crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, who is known by his initials “MBS.”
A second source said the officer assembled and sent his own team to interrogate Khashoggi. They suspected Khashoggi of having ties to the kingdom’s arch rival, Qatar, the source said. There has been no evidence to substantiate Khashoggi had such ties.

Trump sides with Saudis as clamor grows over Khashogi’s disappearance

Another source told CNN the mission’s organizer was not transparent about what he told Riyadh, which, the source said, explained why the government had no clear information for days.
It’s not clear whether these elements will be included in the report ordered by the Saudi authorities into the affair. On Monday, sources told CNN that the report will acknowledge that Khashoggi died in a botched interrogation, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey.
A Turkish official told CNN on Tuesday that Khashoggi’s body was cut into pieces after he was killed two weeks ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The claim, which was first made to the New York Times earlier in the investigation into Khashoggi’s fate, comes after Turkish officials searched the consulate for nine hours on Monday night. The Turkish official would not comment on the disposal method for the body.
On Tuesday, President Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the crown prince informed them that an investigation into the matter had begun and answers would be forthcoming shortly.

Passports suggest team had ties to Saudi government

Turkish officials have said privately that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate on October 2 after he arrived to obtain papers that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Saudi Arabia has previously insisted he left the building alive, but Cengiz says she never saw him again.
Previously, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that showed Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate. The evidence, which was described to the source by a Western intelligence agency, showed there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate.
Turkish authorities believe 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected to the Khashoggi’s disappearance. Turkish officials provided CNN with passport scans of seven men they suspect were part of the group. The passport scans were taken on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

CCTV footage shows Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate on October 2.

One of the passport scans appears to belong to Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi, listed as the head of forensic medicine at the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Another member of the group identified by Turkish official media and appearing in the alleged passport scans is Muhammad Saad al-Zahrani, who has appeared on Saudi state TV alongside Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Sabah, a pro-government private newspaper in Turkey, last week listed 15 names alongside photographs of men who authorities believe were flown into Istanbul from Riyadh. Eight of the 15 were identified by state news Anadolu Agency.
Two sources familiar with the investigation confirmed to CNN that the 15 men listed by Sabah were of interest in the ongoing criminal investigation launched by Turkish prosecutors.
Officials to search Saudi Consul General’s residence on Wednesday
By the time Turkish investigators gained access to the consulate Monday evening, a fresh coat of paint had been applied “everywhere” inside the building, a Turkish official told CNN Tuesday. The source said Saudi Arabia must make “a genuine contribution” to the investigation of Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul.

Photo: A Saudi investigation delegation enters the Saudi Arabian consulate Monday before Turkish investigators arrive.

Earlier Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested investigators were looking into possibility that evidence of toxic materials had been concealed.
“My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” Erdogan told reporters.
CNN saw a cleaning crew enter the main consulate building on Monday before Turkish officials arrived with a forensics team to begin their investigation. CCTV footage showed vehicles moving from the consulate building to the nearby Saudi consul general’s residence on October 2.
An expected search Tuesday of the consul general’s residence did not take place, according to a deputy police officer near the building who spoke to CNN’s team in Istanbul. Investigators said the search will take place Wednesday, according to state broadcaster TRT.
Meanwhile, the consul general himself, Mohammed Otaibi, left Turkey on Tuesday, the semiofficial Anadolu news agency said.

International scrutiny heightens

Saudi Arabia has been under intense international pressure to explain Khashoggi’s apparent death, which has created a diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and the West.
The G7 foreign ministers called for those responsible to be held accountable.
“We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for talks with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Photo: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, left, meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday in Riyadh.

“My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials,” Pompeo said Tuesday after meeting.
Pompeo will fly to Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

CNN’s Tim Lister and Clarissa Ward reported from Ankara. CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen reported from Washington, DC. Nic Robertson and Isil Sariyuce contributed reporting from Istanbul.