Trump slams rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Jamal Khashoggi disappearance

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President Donald Trump compared the case of Jamal Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. (AFP)
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Riyadh for Turkey on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 31 October 2018
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Trump slams rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Jamal Khashoggi disappearance

  • ‘I think we have to find out what happened first’
  • ‘Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that’

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the mystery of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Saudis’ request for patience.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”

The Oval Office interview came not long after Trump spoke Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman.

After speaking with the king, Trump floated the idea that “rogue killers” may have been responsible for the disappearance. The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his “feeling” from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term.

“It sounded to me, maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now in Turkey and has met with President Recep Tayipp Erdogan after the senior US diplomat’s talks with King Salman and the crown prince in Riyadh on the case of Khashoggi.

Pompeo had a brief meeting with the king before a lengthy, 40-minute discussion with the crown prince.

“We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together,” the crown prince said as he warmly welcomed Pompeo to the Saudi capital.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir also had talks with Pompeo. “The secretary and the foreign minister agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said later.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to complete paperwork related to his divorce. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have set up a joint team to investigate the disappearance.


Saudi public prosecution announces results of investigation into Khashoggi killing

Updated 45 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi public prosecution announces results of investigation into Khashoggi killing

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Thursday he was seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was killed in the country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2 after a struggle by a lethal injection dose and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, he told reporters in Riyadh.

The Prosecutor said Khashoggi’s body parts were then handed over to a local Turkish agent outside the consulate grounds, the spokesman said, adding that a sketch of the agent has been prepared and will be handed over to the Turkish authorities.

He said that the head of Khashoggi’s repatriation team was the one who ordered the killing of the victim, adding that the investigations into the whereabouts of the victim’s body are still ongoing.

He noted that the mission of the team was to persuade Khashoggi to return to the kingdom.

The prosecutor said a former adviser had been due to meet the team that was ordered to repatriate journalist Khashoggi, who was killed after efforts to negotiate his return failed.

He added that the ex-advisor had been banned from travelling and remained under investigation, and that the case has been transferred to court while investigations continue.

The prosecutor said Saudi Arabia has requested Turkey to sign a cooperation deal on a probe into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We have requested the brotherly Turkish authorities to sign a special cooperation mechanism specific to this case in order to provide them with the results of the investigation,” he said, adding that “the public prosecutor is still awaiting a response to these requests.”