Trump criticizes rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi

Danny Woods
October 18, 2018

On October 2, the International Day of Non-violence, journalist and a contributor to the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and he has not been seen since. They were very clear: "they understand the important of this issue, they are determined to get to the bottom of it", Pompeo told reporters.

The comments come after Trump said he had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and been assured that a "full" probe into the disappearance of a critical journalist was underway.

Trump sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to talk directly with Saudi Arabia's royals amid strong pressure in Congress and the USA media to prevent the vanishing of Khashoggi from being swept under the carpet.

In Turkey earlier Tuesday, a high-level Turkish official told the AP that police investigators searching the Saudi Consulate had found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there.

Asked whether they said Khashoggi was alive or dead, Pompeo said: "They didn't talk about any of the facts". "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent". "I think there needs to be a full-fledged global investigation, and it appears to me that the Saudi story, even in the last 24 hours, has been changing to where they may be acknowledging that the journalist Khashoggi was murdered, but somehow presenting the notion that it was rogue elements".

"I know this: Nothing what happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it", Graham said.

Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and he was critical of the Saudi government, calling for reforms.

CNN reported that the Saudis were going to acknowledge the killing happened but deny the king or crown prince had ordered it - which does not match what analysts and experts know about the kingdom's inner workings.

MbS, who has enjoyed a close relationship with the Trump administration, has painted himself as the face of a new, vibrant Saudi Arabia, diversifying its economy away from reliance on oil and making some social changes.

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Turkish police did not search the Saudi consul's Istanbul residence on Tuesday, officers at the scene said, because Saudi officials were not able to join.

But there has been mounting criticism of some of the prince's moves.

Pompeo was to have a dinner Tuesday night with Prince Mohammed and was expected to fly to Turkey on Wednesday.

Khashoggi has written extensively for the Post about Saudi Arabia, criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women.

Monday's search of the consulate yielded evidence that Khashoggi was killed there, media reported.

Three other suspects are linked to Prince Mohammed's security detail and a fifth is a high-level forensic doctor, the Times said.

Meanwhile, top corporate executives including JP Morgan CEO James Dimon and Ford chairman Bill Ford pulled out of an investment conference in Riyadh following growing tension between Saudi Arabia and major powers.

Turkish authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, Turkish sources have told Reuters.

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