Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Forensic teams look for evidence after Khashoggi disappearance

Forensic teams look for evidence after Khashoggi disappearance

Again on Twitter, President Trump yesterday tweeted: "For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russian Federation, for that matter)".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is the key power inside Saudi Arabia, and struck up a friendship with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in 2017. "Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it", Graham said, vowing never to return there till the prince is out. The US secretary of state had talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, too.

Asked aboard his airplane whether he had heard any audio of Khashoggi's capture, Pompeo declined to comment, but his spokeswoman later told reporters he had not. "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself".

Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of SC and one of the kingdom's biggest defenders, angrily rejected the Saudi denials that Trump repeated. "They need to simply say what happened".

Members of the Saudi security team that Turkish officials say were waiting for him there, and others who flew to Istanbul for the operation, also have links to Mohammed and the Saudi royal court.

The police arrived Wednesday at the home. Pompeo "emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent and timely investigation, and the Saudi leadership pledged to deliver precisely on that".

The consulate building was searched on Monday. "Again, I've had some senators come up and some Congressmen that said, "well, you know, sir, I think what we should do is we should not take that order", he said.

McGurk, the State Department envoy, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to discuss how the US$100 million in stabilisation money would be spent, said a State Department official.

The three posed for photos, but said nothing together in front of reporters.

During Pompeo's visit to Saudi Arabia, the top diplomat and the crown prince smiled for the cameras and emphasised the two countries' mutual interests.

Trump initially promised "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if the United States determined that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi. Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.

Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Mideast, is under pressure to explain what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor living in the USA who had been critical of the crown prince. They also started searching the Saudi consul's residence on Wednesday. After headlines, we'll go to Istanbul to speak with journalist Jamal Elshayyal outside the Saudi Consulate.

The existence of audio evidence that Mr Khashoggi - a critic of Saudi leaders - was murdered was revealed by Turkish investigators early on in their inquiries.

In an interview with Fox News, a prominent Trump ally in the Senate called on Saudi Arabia to reject the crown prince, known as MBS, who rose to power previous year and has aggressively sought to soften the kingdom's image overseas and attract foreign investment.

Trump said he hoped the Saudis' own investigation of Khashoggi's disappearance would be concluded in "less than a week".

Saudi officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press in recent days. The Saudis have denied the allegations.

So far there is no guarantee that the world will get any proof of Saudi Arabia's account of Khashoggi's death, beyond being asked to take the kingdom's word for it.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his plans to attend an investment conference in Riyadh next week would be revisited on Thursday after U.S. officials have a chance to consult Pompeo.

Before Khashoggi ever set foot in the consulate in Istanbul on October 2, Mohammed was trying to get his hands on him.

The ultimate fate of Khashoggi - whose writings have been critical of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - is still unknown, but leaks by anonymous Turkish officials have painted a picture of him allegedly meeting a grisly demise in the consulate at the hands of Saudi agents.

It said al-Otaibi can be heard on one tape saying during Khashoggi's torture: "Do this outside".

Pompeo told journalists Wednesday morning before flying to Turkey that the kingdom promised a "transparent investigation".

"They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official", Pompeo said.

Khashoggi vanished October 2 on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Alotaibi is one of 11 Saudis included in the group of 15 men who have ties to the Saudi security services, according to their posts on social media, emails, local media reports and other material reviewed by The Washington Post.

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