Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Money | By Hannah Jacobs

Saudi team after Post writer included soldiers, royal guards

Saudi team after Post writer included soldiers, royal guards

"It's a very serious situation for us and this White House", Trump said.

Under U.S. law, major foreign sales of military equipment can be blocked by Congress.

Twenty-two senators wrote to Trump invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which requires the president to open an investigation and determine whether sanctions should be imposed.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which ranks the kingdom 169th out of 180 on its World Press Freedom Index, said in a statement that between 25 and 30 professional and non-professional journalists are now detained in Saudi Arabia.

The identity and the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services are now known to the Turkish officials.

The Saudi Consulate referred Reuters to authorities in Riyadh who have not responded to questions about the 15 Saudis, who Sabah said travelled on diplomatic passports, arriving in Istanbul hours before Khashoggi disappeared.

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.

While the reports provide nothing definitive, they darken the picture surrounding Khashoggi's disappearance. "Everything points to them".

Turkish media on Wednesday published the identities of 15 members of an alleged hit team sent to kill Khashoggi, including what was said to be a top Saudi a forensic official.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed USA officials, reported on Wednesday night that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the abduction of Khashoggi.

A critic of the crown prince, Mr Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the United States and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before his disappearance.

Bakeer said that if it turned out that the USA intelligence knew about the Saudi plan of assassinating Khashoggi and they didn't warn him at least or warn the Turkish authorities or even take an action to prevent such an operation, "then this would tell much about how harmful the relation between MBS and Trump is becoming to the US institutions".

President Donald Trump says the looking into the fate of a Saudi writer missing and feared murdered.

While he refused to comment on the intercepts, deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters that he could "say definitively the United States had no advance knowledge of [Khashoggi's] disappearance".

He also called for at least a temporary halt in US military support for the Saudi bombing campaign against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.

The Post report cited US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan, as well as interviews with some of Khashoggi's friends.

"If it's found that they murdered a journalist, that will hugely change our relationship", Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

The suspected killing of Khashoggi is also expected to deal a heavy blow to Mohammed bin Salman's image, who has spent a lot of money to portray himself as a moderate reformist. Saudi Arabia denies this. Turkey also requested permission to search the consulate building. That's unlikely to change, said Robin Wright, a scholar at the Wilson Center think tank and close friend of the missing writer. The Trump administration's Middle East policy, ranging from issues of Iran, Syria and Israel, has been built around the Saudi alliance despite criticism of the kingdom's abysmal human rights record and the war in Yemen.

Mr Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside.

Crown Prince Mohammed has introduced some economic and social reforms, allowing women to drive and opening movie theaters in the deeply conservative Muslim nation.

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