U.S. raises pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist

Posted October 11, 2018

"We have seen conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi", Pompeo said in a statement.

Paul said he hopes Khashoggi's disappearance " motivates everybody to reassess our kinship and everything we do with Saudi Arabia".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told Bloomberg News in an interview last week that Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after entering it last week and that he was ready to let Turkey search the building. They said at the weekend they believed Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team sent to Istanbul and thought to consist of 15 Saudis.

The team is said to include a Saudi special forces officer, members of the royal guard and a senior forensics expert. The journalist was planning to remarry, and he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document showing that he was legally divorced from his ex-wife.

But Turkish officials declined to go on record as Turkey tries to manage its hard relationship with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi is a resident of the United States and has been living in Washington, D.C. The former editor-in-chief of a Saudi newspaper and then an advisor to Saudi government officials, in the previous year Khashoggi had written columns critical of the Saudi goverment in the Post.

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Paul also cited Saudi Arabia's intervention in neighboring Yemen's civil war.

In an interview Wednesday, Pence said the U.S.is "ready to assist in anyway" in response to questions about sending Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Following the Washington Post report, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said the U.S. "had no advanced knowledge of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance".

Sabah newspaper published the names and years of birth of the 15 Saudis it said arrived at Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

Twelve of them arrived early on Tuesday, based on photos captured at passport control which were published. The 15 men reportedly left Turkey that same evening.

Nour, along with a number of other activists, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yemeni Tawakkol Karman, demonstrated outside the Saudi consulate on Monday holding pictures of Khashoggi.

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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the warning process, declined to comment on whether Khashoggi had been contacted.

CCTV released by Turkish TV showed a man believed to be Mr Khashoggi enter the consulate as well as a vehicle entering and leaving the building after he went inside. It said they checked into two hotels in Istanbul on October 2 and left later that day.

About two hours later Aksam showed two vehicles, one of them a black Mercedes Vito van with tinted windows and diplomatic plates, leaving the consulate and entering the auto park of the residence shortly afterwards. Saudi officials haven't acknowledged that. "I miss my friends and family very much", he told me.

Hatice Cengiz, the Turkish fiancée of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, says that although she is afraid that media reports of his death could be true, she wants to wait for a "final result" and still thinks "anything" could have happened to him.

The law, enacted in 2016, requires the White House to launch an investigation into human rights violations anywhere on the planet if asked by the Senate Foreign Relations committee, with a 120-day deadline to submit a report and decide on imposing sanctions on "foreign person or persons" held responsible for "extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression", according to the letter.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., endorsed a break in the U.S. -Saudi relationship in a tweet last week.

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"We're monitoring this very closely, this situation very closely, and we are working closely with [the] State Department", Mattis said. "Everything that I've seen has raised real questions about what's happened here".