USA senators trigger human rights probe over missing Saudi journalist

Kenny Grant
October 11, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence signals the USA may help investigate the disappearance of the Washington Post contributor and prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The investigation is triggered by a letter to the president from the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker and Menendez, respectively. It could pave the way for sanctions, including against high ranking officials in the Saudi government.

Khashoggi - a USA resident and one of the more outspoken critics of the regime of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and Turkish officials suspect he was murdered.

Turkish sources have said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission.

Saudi Arabia has called the charge that it killed or kidnapped Khashoggi "baseless", but has provided no evidence that he left the consulate.

Mr Khashoggi was visiting the consulate to finalise his divorce so he could marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Asked about suggestions that Washington should consider blocking further arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Trump told Fox that would hurt U.S.jobs.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he planned to contact Saudi authorities about the case. "It goes without saying that his family in the Kingdom remain gravely concerned about him, and so are we".

"We don't know what has happened to him".

The planes belonged to a company based in Saudi Arabia which has links to the state.

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A contributor to The Washington Post, Khashoggi has not been seen since Tuesday last week, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to collect papers for his upcoming wedding.

"The Saudis have a lot of explaining to do because all indications are that they have been involved at minimum with his disappearance", Corker told The Associated Press. "They can even catch bird or a mosquito with the advanced systems they have", the president said.

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.

Mr Khashoggi, a USA resident and critic of the Saudi monarchy, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and has not been seen since.

The CCTV video, which has not been verified, shows nine men going through diplomatic passport control.

Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2. Almost two hours after Khashoggi entered the consulate, video shows two vehicles with diplomatic plates leaving the consulate through police barricades and headed to the Saudi consul general's residence.

Sabah revealed the times the Saudi nationals arrived and left Istanbul.

Turkish officials are hoping to enter the consulate and consul general residence to conduct an investigation.

Embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations. Saudi Arabia denies this.

Indication of those stakes came within four months of Trump taking office, when Saudi Arabia became his first destination on a presidential trip and he announced $110 billion in proposed arms sales.

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