Saudis preparing to admit Jamal Khashoggi died during interrogation, sources say

Elias Hubbard
October 16, 2018

"Who knows?" Trump told reporters at the White House.

Turkish government sources said police believed Khashoggi, a former Saudi government adviser, may have been killed by a 15-man team sent especially to Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia, in turn, threatened to retaliate.

Speaking on Twitter, Mr Trump said: "Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened "to our Saudi Arabian citizen".

Trump told journalists. "We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but (King Salman's) was a flat denial".

"It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers", he added. However, the Turkish side rejected this offer and pro-government daily Sabah reported last week that officials wanted to search the building with luminol, a chemical that allows the discovery of blood traces. Trump is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the king on the issue. Surveillance footage from cameras surrounding the consulate showed Khashoggi entering the complex but did not show him leaving.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump suggested without offering evidence that "rogue killers" may have slain Khashoggi, stepping further back from his pledge that Saudi Arabia would face "severe punishment" if it is found to be responsible for the columnist's yet-to-be-determined fate.

More than 20 Republican and Democratic senators instructed Trump last week to order an investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance under legislation that authorizes sanctions for perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross human rights violations.

The official said the prosecutor had been instructed to work quickly.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a fellow for the Middle East at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, warned that the reputational cost of doing business in Saudi Arabia could spike in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance.

On Sunday, Riyadh angrily rejected political and economic "threats" over the case of the missing journalist and said it would respond to any punitive action "with a bigger one".

Khashoggi's disappearance continues to draw worldwide attention as people demand answers about his whereabouts from the Saudi government.

The sovereign-wealth fund acquired a less than 5% stake in Endeavor earlier this year, sources say.

It is feared the Washington Post columnist, who lived in the United States, was killed and dismembered when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. CNN first reported that the Saudis were planning to admit Khashoggi died in the consulate.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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