Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Saudi preparing report to admit Khashoggi was killed

Saudi preparing report to admit Khashoggi was killed

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Tuesday to discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as Turkish police prepared to search the Saudi consul's residence in Istanbul in a widening probe.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and USA resident who became increasingly critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has not been seen since he walked into the Istanbul consulate to sort out marriage paperwork on October 2.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he had seen a media report that Saudi officials might say Khashoggi was killed during an unauthorised interrogation, but "nobody knows" if this was an official report. "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who has written for the Washington Post, was last seen walking into the consulate on 2 October.

But privately, others are now questioning whether the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the man once hailed as a visionary saviour of Saudi Arabia, has gone too far.

CBS News has learned Saudi leadership is preparing to admit that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation gone wrong.

Turkish officials believe he was murdered there and his body removed with the case provoking an worldwide outcry against Saudi Arabia.

Reporters waiting outside the consulate in Istanbul's Levent district said early October 16 that Turkish crime scene investigators turned off all the lights and surveyed the interior of the Saudi consulate with a special blue light used in forensics probes.

The search came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman also had their first telephone talks since the controversy erupted, in what appeared to be a conciliatory conversation according to official readouts. Proximity to the royal family went back generations - Khashoggi's grandfather served as personal physician to Saudi Arabia's founding king. On Monday, however, United States media noted that the Saudis might be considering revising their original position of deniability and might soon consent to the admission that Khashoggi died during an interrogation that 'went wrong'. It said the Saudi government, which could not be reached immediately for comment on the reports, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.

Riyadh's most recent comments have focused on having no knowledge of any killing or denying any order to kill Khashoggi had been given.

Hours prior, President Trump announced in a tweet that he spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman about Khashoggi.

People walk past the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 7, 2018.

Germany, Britain and France issued a joint statement over the weekend expressing "grave concern", calling for a credible investigation to ensure those responsible for the disappearance "are held to account".

The Saudi riyal fell to its lowest in two years and its worldwide bond prices slipped over fears that foreign investment could shrink amid global pressure.

Khashoggi, a familiar face on Arab talk shows, moved to Washington a year ago fearing retribution for his criticism of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent with arrests.

Saudi Arabia's Arab allies have rushed to its support. The uncertainty regarding Mr Khashoggi's fate has also led to a number of business executives like Virgin's Richard Branson and JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon as well as media partners withdrawing from an upcoming investment conference in Riyadh this month.

The Uber investment was the PIF's first major deal in the technology start-up market, signaling its shift in strategy toward more aggressive and eye-catching foreign investments.

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