Khashoggi case: All previous updates

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Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry. He has not been seen since.

Turkish sources have told media outlets they believe the Saudi writer and critic was killed inside the consulate in what they describe as “premeditated murder”.

Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi left the building before vanishing. 

Al Jazeera started a ‘live updates’ page on October 10. Here are the all developments from Wednesday, October 10 till Wednesday, October 17:

Wednesday, October 17

Turkey yet to share Khashoggi audio, video evidence with US

Turkey has not shared with the US government or key European allies graphic audio or video evidence it allegedly collected on Khashoggi’s visit to Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, seven US and European security officials told Reuters.

‘Identical samples uncovered at consulate and consul’s residence’

Turkish forensic experts who searched the residence of Saudi Arabia’s Consul General in Istanbul have found “samples identical to those uncovered” at the kingdom’s consulate in the city, according to Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal.

Sources at the Attorney General’s Office “say these samples provide further evidence of the conclusion that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate building”, our correspondent said, reporting from Istanbul.


Turkey has now asked the US to share Khashoggi’s blood and DNA samples with them, he added.

Trump asked Turkey for audio, video evidence

President Donald Trump said the US has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it may have related to the disappearance of Khashoggi but was not sure whether any such evidence exists.

“We have asked for it, if it exists … I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does,” he said.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, denied he was trying to give cover to Saudi leaders, a day after he cautioned against assuming Saudi leaders were guilty in the case until proven innocent.

“I just want to find out what’s happening,” he said. “I’m not giving cover at all.”

Trump says he does not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia

Donald Trump says he does not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia despite ongoing concerns about Khashoggi’s disappearance, arguing the US relies on the kingdom in the fight against “terrorism”.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said “I do not want to do that” when asked if the US would walk away from its Gulf ally.

He added that the kingdom has “a tremendous order, $110bn”, referring to the promised US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo: US takes Khashoggi case ‘seriously’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US takes Khashoggi’s disappearance “seriously” and needs to know the facts behind the case before it can formulate an appropriate response.

Pompeo made the comments to journalists after leaving Turkey during a quick visit that included a talk with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Pompeo said Erdogan “made clear that the Saudis had cooperated with the investigation that the Turks are engaged in and they are going to share information”.


Khashoggi case brings new scrutiny on Saudi Arabia over Yemen war


Turkish investigators enter Saudi consul’s home

A team of Turkish investigators entered the Saudi consul’s Istanbul residence as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier that Turkish officials hoped to enter the consulate on Wednesday. Turkish police entered the Saudi consulate on Monday for the first time since Khashoggi’s disappearance two weeks ago, searching the premises for nine hours.

Saudi investigation team arrives at consul’s Istanbul residence

An 11-member Saudi investigation team arrived at the Saudi consul’s Istanbul residence on Wednesday, according to CNN Turk, ahead of an expected search by Turkish police in relation to Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder.

Turkish FM Cavusoglu previously had said Turkey hopes to enter the residence on Wednesday.

Turkish police were expected to search the residence on Tuesday but officers at the scene said it was called off for the day because Saudi officials were unable to join.

German FM delays decision on trip to Saudi Arabia

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would delay a decision on whether to go through with a planned visit to Saudi Arabia until Riyadh had given more clarity on Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Maas said the trip, which had been intended as part of a push to repair strained relations with the desert kingdom, made no sense in the context of concerns over the fate of Khashoggi, whom Turkish authorities believe was murdered.

“We had planned a visit in the context of the dialogue with Saudi Arabia. We will wait on that now,” Maas said at a Berlin news conference.

“The Saudi side plans a statement [on the affair], and we will use that as a basis for deciding whether a trip makes sense at the current time.”

French banking executive cancels Saudi trip

Federic Oudea, the chief executive of French bank Societe Generale has cancelled his attendance at the ‘Davos in the Desert’ investment conference to be held later this month, a spokesman for the bank confirmed.

Oudea’s cancellation comes a day after BNP Paribas Chairman Jean Lemierre had also cancelled his attendance at this month’s conference in Riyadh.

Numerous business executives and journalists have pulled out of the conference amid widespread concern about Khashoggi.

Meeting with Pompeo ‘fruitful’: Turkish FM

Pompeo met with both Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Erdogan in separate meetings that each lasted roughly 40 minutes.

Cavusoglu said dialogue with Pompeo was “beneficial and fruitful”, according to reports from Turkey.

Khashoggi’s disappearance, along with issues in Syria and US-Turkish relations, were discussed in the meetings, the FM said.

Cavusoglu also said a search at the Saudi consul general residence did not happen Tuesday but the team hopes to enter today.

Pompeo meets with Erdogan

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has landed in Turkey to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing.

A meeting between Turkish President Erdogan and Pompeo has begun in Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, according to reports. 

Pompeo was previously in Saudi Arabia for meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MBS. 

The US top diplomat said the kingdom has made a “serious commitment” to hold senior leaders and officials accountable in the case of missing journalist Khashoggi, if any wrongdoing is discovered.

As the meeting began, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Turkish authorities are waiting for a joint agreement to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi’s alleged murder is thought to have taken place. 

‘Guilty until proven innocent’: Trump condemns accusations

In his strongest statement yet backing Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump criticised rapidly mounting global condemnation of Riyadh over the mystery of the missing journalist.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault levelled 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.”

Trump’s remarks were his most robust defence yet of the Saudis, a US ally he has made central to his Middle East agenda. The comments put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the Khashoggi case.

Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.


Who killed Jamal Khashoggi?


After Khashoggi’s disappearance, there has been mounting criticism of some of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s moves.

These include Riyadh’s involvement in the war in Yemen, the arrest of women activists, and a diplomatic dispute with Canada. The kingdom also denied an assertion by France that it held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri captive in November 2017.

Despite Western concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Trump still says he is unwilling to pull out of multi-billion-dollar weapons sales deals with Riyadh.

Suspects linked to crown prince: report

Four suspects identified by Turkey in Khashoggi’s disappearance are tied to Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, The New York Times reports.

One is a frequent companion of the powerful crown prince and the three others are linked to his security detail, the report said.

Turkish government sources have said police believe the journalist was killed by a special team of 15 Saudi operatives sent to Istanbul especially for the assassination. Riyadh insists Khashoggi left the consulate safely.

The Times said it confirmed at least nine of the 15 worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries.

The newspaper said it gathered more information about the suspects through facial recognition software, a database of Saudi mobile phone numbers, leaked Saudi government documents, witnesses and media.

One suspect, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi embassy in London in 2007, it said, citing a British diplomatic roster.

Mutreb has been photographed emerging from planes with Prince Mohammed on recent trips to Madrid and Paris, the newspaper reported.

He was also photographed standing guard during the crown prince’s visits in the United States to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

Pompeo: ‘Credible’ investigation by Saudi officials

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Saudi Arabia has made a “serious commitment” to hold senior leaders and officials accountable in the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if any wrongdoing is discovered.

Pompeo was in Saudi Arabia for meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He offered his assessment after talks with the Saudi leadership, and said the crown prince again denied any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

Pompeo’s statement said the Saudis acknowledged something had happened to the missing journalist, but were not specific.

The crown prince “conveyed that a serious and credible investigation is already under way. He pledged that the work of the Saudi public prosecutor will produce a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see”, it said.

“They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable. They were very clear. They understand the importance of this issue they are determined to get to the bottom of it. They each promised they would achieve that for us,” said Pompeo.  


Who was murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi?


He visits Turkey before arriving late on Wednesday back in the US to deliver his report to President Donald Trump.

G7 calls for ‘transparent’ probe in Khashoggi case

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven called for a “transparent” probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance.    

“We remain very troubled by the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account,” said a statement by Canada, which currently holds the presidency of the group of industrial democracies.

“We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent and prompt investigation, as announced.”

IMF chief Lagarde to skip Saudi conference

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has deferred a planned trip to the Middle East, which included a stop in Riyadh to attend an investment conference.

On Saturday, Lagarde told a news conference in Indonesia she did not intend to change her travel plans but was “horrified” by media reports about the disappearance of the Saudi journalist.

“The Managing Director’s previously scheduled trip to the Middle East region is being deferred,” an IMF spokesperson said in a statement, without giving a reason for the decision.

Muqtada al-Sadr calls out Trump over Khashoggi

Iraq’s populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accused President Donald Trump of feigning concern over Khashoggi’s disappearance while ignoring other forms of injustice.

Sadr called Trump a “Pharaoh” and “tyrant” who speaks out about injustice when it suits him.

The message, published by his office on Tuesday, appeared critical of Saudi Arabia as well at a time when Iraq’s politicians are finding themselves courted by the Gulf state and its rival, Iran.

Saudis still have $6m lobbying payroll despite departures

Saudi Arabia is paying influential lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations experts nearly $6m a year to engage US officials and promote the Gulf kingdom, even after three Washington firms cut ties after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The figure comes from records filed with the Justice Department that provide details of agreements with the Saudi embassy and other arms of its government.

The Saudis are spending heavily in Washington as a bitter political dispute simmers in the Middle East that pits the kingdom and three other Arab nations against Qatar over claims it funds “terrorism” and is close to regional rival Iran – accusations Doha vehemently denies.

More business defections are possible as pressure mounts on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday [Leah Millis via AP]

Tuesday, October 16

Trump speaks to MBS, says answers coming ‘shortly’

US President Donald Trump says he spoke with Mohammed bin Salman and the crown prince “totally denied” any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

In a tweet, Trump said the crown prince told him the Saudis would rapidly expand an investigation into the matter. Answers will be coming “shortly”, the president said.

Trump told Fox Business Network it “would be bad” if King Salman or bin Salman knew about any operation against Khashoggi.

“It depends whether or not the king or the crown prince knew about it, in my opinion, number one, what happened, but whether or not they knew about it. If they knew about it that would be bad,” Trump said according to an excerpt from the interview.

Saudi consul’s residence will not be searched

Turkish investigators will not search the residence of the Saudi consul in Istanbul on Tuesday. Police said the search was called off because Saudi officials were not able to join.

Saudi consul-general leaves for Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s Consul-General in Istanbul Mohammad al-Otaibi left Turkey for Riyadh, Anadolu news agency reported citing diplomatic sources.

His departure comes as Turkish and Saudi officials are preparing to search al-Otaibi’s residence, Turkish foreign ministry officials said.

US: Pompeo, MBS back Khashoggi probe

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at their meeting “agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers” to Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to a US statement.

“The secretary reiterated the president’s concern with respect to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, as well as the president’s desire to determine what happened,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said of the meeting that took place in Saudi Arabia.

US Senator Graham: MBS is toxic, has got to go

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is on the US Armed Services Committee, told Fox News he is certain Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about an alleged Saudi operation to kill Khashoggi.

“I know this, nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it… I think he’s on a bad track. I can never do business with Saudi Arabia again until we get this behind us…That means I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy’s in charge.”

Asked if he feels if bin Salman should step aside, Graham said: “It’s up to them, but I’m not going, I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate.

“This guy is a wrecking ball, he had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey, and to expect me to ignore it. I feel used and abused. I was on the floor every time defending Saudi Arabia because there’s a good ally.

“There’s a difference between a country and an individual. The MBS figure is, to me, toxic, he can never be a world leader on the world stage.”

Graham said he feels the US should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“It’s up to the president, but what I would do, I know what I’m going to do, I’m going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.

“We deal with bad people all the time but this is in our face. I feel personally offended, they have nothing but contempt for us. Why would you put a guy like me and the president in this box, after all the president has done?

“This guy has got to go. Saudi Arabia, if you are listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself.”

Turkish FM: Investigators could interview Saudi consulate officials

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said officials investigating the Khashoggi case may ask for testimony from staff at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul if deemed necessary but that no restrictions on travel had been placed on the kingdom’s diplomats in Turkey.

Cavusoglu told reporters at a press conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara, that US counterpart Mike Pompeo would share any information gathered regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance during his ongoing visit to Saudi Arabia with Turkish officials.

Khashoggi was last seen entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Banks announce boycott of Saudi business summit

The leaders of HSBC, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered have pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, scheduled to begin in Riyadh on October 23.

Chief executives John Flint, Tidjane Thiam and Bill Winters are the latest high-profile business figures to boycott the event in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.

On Monday, Google announced that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not be attending the business conference.

Pompeo thanks Saudi King Salman

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Saudi monarch King Salman for his commitment to a “thorough and transparent” investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

During face-to-face talks in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, Pompeo reportedly reiterated the US’ concern over the fate of the Saudi writer and critic, who was last seen entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Erdogan: Investigators searched for ‘toxic materials’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the possibility that parts of the consulate had been repainted since Khashoggi disappeared.

“The investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” he told reporters.

A Turkish security official said no conclusive evidence emerged from the overnight search that indicated Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.

“However, there are some findings and they are being worked on,” he said, adding that painting may have damaged some evidence. “These can’t be fully erased after all, so the teams will continue to work on this.”

Erdogan also said he hoped a reasonable opinion would be reached as soon as possible, Reuters news agency reported.

Saudi consul’s Istanbul home to be searched

An official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the home of Saudi Arabia’s consul in Istanbul will be searched as part of ongoing investigations into the Khashoggi case, AP news agency reported.

UN rights chief calls on Saudi Arabia to waive immunity

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on Saudi Arabia and Turkey on Tuesday to reveal all information they had on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

“Two weeks is a very long time for the probable scene of a crime not to have been subjected to a full forensic investigation,” Bachelet said in a statement.

“Under international law, both a forced disappearance and an extra-judicial killing are very serious crimes, and immunity should not be used to impede investigations into what happened and who is responsible,” she added.

Pompeo touches down in Riyadh

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has landed in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, for talks with King Salman over the Khashoggi case.

Pompeo will also meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported, quoting an unnamed US official.

Pompeo’s arrival in Riyadh followed a 20-minute phone call between King Salman and US President Donald Trump on Monday.

Turkish police leave Saudi consulate

A team of Turkish police investigating Khashoggi’s disappearance has left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish police investigators entered the premises late on Monday.

A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said a joint Turkish-Saudi team would search the consulate – the last place Khashoggi was seen before he vanished on October 2.

The results of the investigation will be released in two to three days, the prosecutor’s office said.

Monday, October 15

Google drops out of Saudi economic conference

Alphabet Inc’s Google announced on Monday that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not attend a business conference in Saudi Arabia scheduled to take place later this month.

The announcement came after several other business leaders – including representatives from Uber, Virgin, JP Morgan, Mastercard, The World Bank and Ford – also said they would boycott the conference, officially known as the Future Investment Initiative, which is scheduled to start on October 23.

NY Times: Saudi to blame ‘incompetent’ spy for Khashoggi killing

The New York Times reports the Saudi royal court will soon put out a narrative that an official within the kingdom’s intelligence services – who happens to be a friend of Prince Mohammed – carried out Khashoggi’s killing.

Trump accused of siding with Saudi in Khashoggi ‘murder’ case

According to that narrative, the crown prince approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, but the intelligence official was tragically incompetent as he eagerly sought to prove himself. He then tried to cover up the botched handling of the situation.

CNN earlier reported a similar story. Both reports cited anonymous people said to be familiar with the Saudi plans.

Trump said he could not confirm such reports. “I’ve heard that report but nobody’s knows if it’s an official report. So far it’s just the rumour, the rumour of a report coming out,” he said.

The Times reported the theory was widely dismissed among Khashoggi’s friends , human rights defenders, and some US politicians.

Azzam Tamimi, a Khashoggi friend, called the “rogue” theory “disastrous” for the credibility of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The Turks have leaked so much that it is inconceivable that they would settle for less than telling the world exactly what happened,” said Tamimi.

David Hearst, editor of the Middle East Eye, said the “interrogation-gone wrong” story “really doesn’t hold water”, considering the 15-member assassination team that has been identified consisted of special forces – not interrogators.

“This is not the team you send to interrogate or even kidnap someone,” Hearst told Al Jazeera.

“What is happening is the Saudi story is crumbling, and crumbling very quickly. And now there’s an attempt to build a firewall around [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman and the king.”

Trump suggests ‘rogue killers’ murdered Saudi journalist

President Donald Trump suggested “rogue killers” could be responsible for Khashoggi’s mysterious disappearance, an explanation offering US ally Saudi Arabia a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.

The Saudis continued to deny they killed the writer, but there were indications the story could soon change.

Trump spoke after a personal 20-minute phone call with Saudi King Salman and as the president dispatched his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to Riyadh for a face-to-face discussion with the king on Tuesday.

Trump quoted the king as saying neither he nor his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had any information about what had happened to Khashoggi.

“The king [Salman] firmly denied any knowledge of it,” Trump told reporters of Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

“It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. I mean, who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.”

Khashoggi family demands international probe

A statement released by Khashoggi’s relatives is urging an internationally recognised investigation into his whereabouts.

“As we await definitive answers and facts from multiple ongoing investigations, we believe it is imperative to launch an independent, impartial, and internationally recognised investigation in order to provide us – and the many who loved him – with much needed clarity and resolution,” it said. 

Turkish prosecutors find ‘evidence of killing’

Turkish authorities say prosecutors have found evidence that supports suspicions Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A source at the attorney-general’s office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera “they have found evidence that supports their suspicions that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate”, correspondent Jamal Elshayyal reported from Istanbul. 

“This is a significant step forward after several days of an impasse,” he said. 

The attorney-general’s office also said their team inside the consulate found evidence of “tampering”, Elshayyal added.

The results of the investigation would be released in two to three days, the prosecutors office said.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, citing two unnamed sources.

One source cautioned that a report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said. The other source said the report would likely conclude the operation was carried out without clearance and those involved will be held responsible, the American news outlet said.

Jamal Khashoggi, Mohammed bin Salman and the media | The Listening Post

US ‘ready to assist’ in Khashoggi probe

The US National Security Council released a statement demanding a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“It is absolutely essential that Turkish authorities, with full and transparent support from the government of Saudi Arabia, are able to conduct a thorough investigation and officially release the results of that investigation when concluded.

“We support Turkish investigators’ efforts and are not going to prejudge the outcome of the official investigation. We stand ready to assist.”

Turkish investigators enter Saudi consulate

Turkish police investigators entered Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate, nearly two weeks after the disappearance of Khashoggi.

A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said that a joint Turkish-Saudi team would conduct a search of the consulate.

Trump speaks with Saudi King Salman

Donald Trump said on Twitter that he has spoken with King Salman, who “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened” to Jamal Khashoggi. He also said he would send his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to meet with the Saudi king “immediately”. 

Pompeo, hurriedly sent to Riyadh, is expected to get more clarity during talks with Saudi leaders on Tuesday. The White House expects credible answers quickly after Pompeo wraps up his trip with a stop in Ankara for meetings with senior Turkish officials.

Turkish officials to search Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Turkish investigators will search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Monday afternoon, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said according to AP news agency.

For the last week, authorities have sought to enter the Saudi consulate, the place where Khashoggi was last seen before his disappearance according to CCTV footage.

After entering the consulate two weeks ago, Khashoggi disappeared, leading Turkey to claim the journalist was murdered by Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia has denied all allegations.

How will Saudi deal with its stock market plunge?

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is hitting the Saudi economy, with stocks plunging almost 7 percent in early trading on Sunday, wiping out all the gains it had made since the start of the year.

The fall came after US President Donald Trump threatened “severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, but Riyadh warned it would retaliate if economic sanctions are imposed on it.

What was dubbed “Davos in the desert” is supposed to promote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform vision for the Kingdom.

So, where does that leave all his plans?

Bahrain FM backs boycott of Uber after company pulls out of event

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has voiced his support for a boycott of ride-hailing app Uber over the Khashoggi case.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said he would not attend a business conference in the kingdom’s ally Saudi Arabia because of its alleged involvement in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

On Twitter, Al Khalifa called for a boycott of Uber in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, following similar responses to Uber’s withdrawal in Saudi Arabia.

Similarly, a prominent Emirati businessman called for the boycott of Virgin after its CEO Richard Branson cancelled on the Saudi economic conference.

“Now it is time for GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) to prove their loyalty by boycotting Virgin and Uber and all the companies pulling out of KSA… Together we can prove our unity and that we cannot be bullied,” Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor said on Twitter.

Economic concerns grow for Saudi, global economy

The sell-off on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange shows investors are uneasy, analysts say.

The exchange dropped by more than 500 points, then clawed back some of the losses, ending Sunday down 264 points, or more than four percent. Of 188 stocks traded on the exchange, 179 ended the day with a loss.

“Something this big would definitely spook investors, and Saudi just opened up for foreign direct investment, so that was big,” said Issam Kassabieh, a financial analyst at Dubai-based firm Menacorp Finance.

“Investors do not feel solid in Saudi yet, so it’s easy for them to take back their funds.”

Neem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets, said the unstable political situation would likely continue to frighten investors away.

“This will become a major concern. If entrepreneurs at these levels decide to cut ties or pullback from investments in Saudi Arabia, the stock market is going to have a huge reaction… Uncertainty for FDI [foreign direct investment] is the worst thing that can happen to any country,” he told Al Jazeera.

Oil as a weapon? Prominent Saudi writer suggests it could be

A column by the general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested Saudi Arabia could use its oil production as a weapon if the US were to impose sanctions over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Benchmark Brent crude is trading at about $80 a barrel, and US President Donald Trump has criticised OPEC and Saudi Arabia over rising prices.

“If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure,” Turki Aldakhil wrote.

It’s unclear, however, whether Saudi Arabia would be willing to unilaterally cut production.

“The truth is that if Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh,” said Aldakhil.

Saudi dissident believes Riyadh tapped calls with Khashoggi

A Saudi dissident in Canada believes the kingdom hacked his phone and listened to calls he had with Jamal Khashoggi prior to the journalist’s disappearance.

“For sure, they listened to the conversation between me and Jamal and other activists, in Canada, in the [United] States, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia,” Omar Abdulaziz said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

A report published recently by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab concluded that Saudi authorities were “very likely” responsible for hacking his phone with powerful spyware sold only to governments.

Abdulaziz said he was working on several projects with Khashoggi in recent months, including a campaign to counter Riyadh’s pro-government propaganda on social media.

Khashoggi “promised me to sponsor the project and I guess they could listen in to those conversations”, he said. “His voice was a headache for the Saudi government.”

Morgan and Ford cancel plans for Saudi investor event

JP Morgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford cancelled plans to attend a Saudi investor conference, the latest such high-profile announcements after Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The cancellations could add pressure on other American firms such as Goldman Sachs Group, Mastercard, and Bank of America to reconsider their plans to attend the high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert”.

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh later this month and did not comment on whether concerns about Khashoggi were a factor.

Business barons – including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as well as media powerhouses like Bloomberg and CNN – have all pulled out.

The absence of media and technology executives is likely to cast a shadow over the three-day event, which has become the biggest show for investors to promote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform vision.

People hold signs during a protest at the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC over Khashoggi’s disappearance [Jacquelyn Martin/AP]

Sunday, October 14

Erdogan, King Salman stress importance of joint working group 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia spoke by telephone and discussed the investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi, according to Turkish presidential sources.

They said the leaders stressed the importance of their two countries creating a joint working group as part of the investigation. The king thanked Erdogan for welcoming the Saudi proposal for the joint group and said no one could undermine their relationship.

Egypt supports Saudi efforts on Khashoggi

Egypt said it was following with concern the case of Khashoggi’s disappearance and called for a transparent investigation into the matter.

“Egypt stresses the importance of revealing the truth of what happened in a transparent investigation,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.

Cairo warned against those who sought to exploit the incident politically against Saudi Arabia and stressed its support for Riyadh’s efforts to deal with the situation.

Britain to determine course of action if Saudi proven guilty

The UK’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said Britain would have to think about the appropriate response if it were proven that Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“I don’t want to get drawn into hypotheticals because we don’t know the facts yet, but we have been very, very clear that if these stories are true, that would be totally appalling and we would have to think about the appropriate way to react in that situation,” Hunt told British television. 

Saudi thanks US for showing caution in Khashoggi case 

Saudi Arabia thanked countries, including the United States, for “refraining from jumping to conclusions” over the fate of the missing journalist. 

The Saudi embassy in Washington issued a tweet to clarify an earlier statement in which Saudi Arabia said it would retaliate to international pressure or sanctions with greater measures. 

UK, France, Germany call for ‘credible investigation’ 

The United Kingdom, France and Germany have called on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to mount a “credible investigation” into the disappearance of Khashoggi, adding they were treating the case with “utmost seriousness”. 

“There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and – if relevant – to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account,” foreign ministers from the three countries said in a joint statement.

“We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities.”

US Treasury Secretary to attend upcoming Saudi summit 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is still planning to attend the three-day Future Investment Initiative scheduled to take place on October 23, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Mr Mnuchin will make up his mind as the week progresses and as new information surfaces,” Kudlow said.

His comments came shortly after Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN’s State of the Union he believes Mnuchin should boycott the event.

Senator Rubio: ‘US must take action’ 

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the US had to react in response to Khashoggi’s disappearance or face losing its reputation on human rights. 

“If we do not take action, including potentially arms sales, as a result of this, if it turns out to be what they say it is, then we are not going to be able to with a straight face or any credibility confront Putin or Assad or Maduro in Venezuela or frankly confront the Chinese and their human rights violations,” Rubio said on Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

Saudi Arabia vows retaliation against possible sanctions

Riyadh dismissed threats of sanctions over the disappearance of Khashoggi and vowed Saudi Arabia would retaliate against such action.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure,” an official source said, quoted by state news agency SPA.

“The kingdom also affirms that it will respond to any action with a bigger one,” the source said.

Saudi stocks tumble as pressure mounts

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) lost more than 500 points on the first trading day of the week on Sunday, wiping out all the gains it had made since the start of the year.

TASI is the largest Arab bourse and has shed almost $50bn of its capital value, dropping to $450bn.

Khashoggi’s fiancee calls for ‘accountability’

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, has called for accountability if reports of his murder are true.

In an op-ed written for The New York Times, Cengiz said if allegations are proven true, the loss of Khashoggi impacts “every person with a conscience and moral compass.

“If we have already lost Jamal, then condemnation is not enough. The people who took him from us, irrespective of their political positions, must be held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law,” she wrote.

Cengiz, who was invited to the White House by Trump, said she would “consider accepting” such an invitation if the US president helped reveal the truth of what happened to Khashoggi.

US, UK may boycott Riyadh conference

US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, and the UK’s International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, may not attend the “Davos in the Desert”, a major investment conference in Riyadh, over concerns that Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s reported death.

The officials’ possible boycott was confirmed to the BBC by “diplomatic sources”.

If Mnuchin and Fox decide to boycott the Future Investment Initiative conference, they will join investors such as Richard Branson and journalists from The Economist, CNBC and The New York Times, who pulled out of the conference in Riyadh on Friday amid growing concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Saturday, October 13

Trump pessimistic about Khashoggi’s fate

Trump says he will probably call Saudi King Salman tonight or tomorrow about Khashoggi, adding that the case is “not looking too good”.

Trump also said the US would be “punishing itself” if it halts military sales to Saudi Arabia, even if it is proven that Khashoggi was killed inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey urges Saudis to allow consulate search

Turkey’s top diplomat has reiterated a call to Saudi Arabia to allow Turkish authorities to enter the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. 

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Saudi Arabia had not yet cooperated with Turkey on the search for Khashoggi. He said that Turkish “prosecutors and technical friends must enter” the consulate “and Saudi Arabia must cooperate with us on this”.

Trump: ‘Severe punishment’ if Saudi killed Khashoggi

US President Donald Trump said in a CBS interview that there would be “severe punishment” for Saudi Arabia if it turns out that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump said in an interview for 60 Minutes that there was much at stake with Khashoggi case, “maybe especially so” because he was a journalist.

‘Trump’s rhetoric encourages attacks on press’: IPI

Daoud Kuttab, a board member at the International Press Institute, an organisation promoting press freedom globally, said US President Donald Trump’s tirades against journalists and claims of “fake news” encourage leaders elsewhere to clamp down on press freedom.

“The rhetoric coming out of the White House, coming out of the president, attacks daily on news as being fake news gives the permission to autocratic leaders to take out their own opposition and independent journalists,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Leaders around the world, and especially autocratic leaders, watch the White House and the president carefully. When the president of the US says that journalists are the enemies of the people, that’s music to their ears and the feel like they can get a green light or a yellow light from America to do what they want [to] their own journalists,” he said.

UN chief concerned over attacks on journalists

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed fears that enforced disappearances are set to become the “new normal”.

Speaking to the BBC at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Bali, Guterres said governments must respond appropriately once a “clear answer” on what happened to Khashoggi emerges. 

“I must say I am feeling worried [at] this apparent new normal,” he said.

Members of UK Parliament call for ‘thorough investigation’

Several members of the British Houses of Parliament have written a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Jeremy Hunt, calling for a “thorough investigation” into the Khashoggi case.

“Clearly this is a very concerning case, with serious implications for the future of Saudi Arabia and her relations with liberal democracies worldwide,” a letter written by Mark Menzies, chair of the all-party parliamentarian group on Saudi Arabia wrote in a letter.

“The UK must call for a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, and stand ready to support all authorities in their inquiries,” Menzies continued.

The letter was signed by 13 MPs.

Trump to call King Salman

US President Donald Trump has said he will address Khashoggi’s disappearance in a phone call with Saudi’s King Salman, after confirming he had not talked to any of the country’s officials yet regarding the case. 

“I will be calling, at some point, King Salman, I’ll be speaking to him pretty soon,” Trump said.

“We’re gonna find out what happened with respect to the terrible situation in Turkey having to do with Saudi Arabia and the reporter,” he told reporters in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday.

While avoiding questions of what the conversation would be like, Trump did say that the Saudis and others are looking “very hard and very fast” into what happened to Khashoggi.

“It is potentially a really, really terrible situation,” he said.

Smartwatch recorded Khashoggi’s last moments: report

According to Turkish authorities, Jamal Khashoggi’s smartwatch could potentially play an important factor in solving the disappearance and alleged murder of the Saudi journalist.

The authorities have said Khashoggi’s smartwatch recorded audio of his meeting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which was then sent to a phone he gave his fiancee ahead of his meeting.

Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported on Saturday that Khashoggi’s alleged interrogation, torture and murder were recorded in the watch’s memory. 

Sabah, which cited “reliable sources in a special intelligence department” for its report, said Khashoggi was believed to have turned on the recording feature on the phone before entering the consulate.

Some technology analysts have expressed doubt at the veracity of the report, Alp Toker, from digital rights group told Al Jazeera on Saturday that it was not clear if Khashoggi’s watch had syncing capabilities or if the other devices were within range at the time.

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but looking at the facts of the situation, it is quite difficult to see the conditions when this could have happened,” he said. 

IMF managing director to attend conference in Riyadh

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said she will attend a high profile economic conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, despite criticising the Saudi government for their alleged involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“Human rights and freedom of information are essential rights,” Lagarde said. “Horrifying things have been reported, and I am horrified but I have to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners of the world.”

“When I visit a country I always speak my mind, so at this point in time I will not change my plan.”

On Friday, several key attendees of the investment conference, including the heads of Uber, CNN and FT, who said they will not be part of the event.

Saudi interior minister denies all allegations

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz has denied allegations regarding the disappearance and alleged murder of Khashoggi.

He said that allegations about orders to murder Khashoggi were “lies” targeting the government, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Friday, October 12

Saudi investment conference to go on: Spokesperson 

A spokesperson for the Future Investment Initiative set to take place in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 23 said the event will move ahead as planned. 

“While it is disappointing that some speakers and partners have pulled out, we are looking forward to welcoming thousands of speakers, moderators and guests from all over the world to Riyadh from Oct. 23-25,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

Several US media organisations and business leaders have withdrawn from the conference over the disappearance and suspected murder of Khashoggi. 

France’s Macron: Khashoggi’s disappearance ‘extremely worrying’ 

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “extremely worried” about the Saudi journalist’s disappearance. 

“I am waiting for the truth and complete clarity to be established,” Macron said in an interview with France 24. “What’s being mentioned is serious, very serious […] France wants everything to be done so that we have all the truth on this case of which the first elements are extremely worrying.” 

Macron said he will take a final stance once the facts are established and would discuss the matter with leaders from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. 

CNN, FT withdraw from Saudi event

CNN and The Financial Times became the latest media agencies to drop out of a Saudi investment conference on Friday.

They join journalists from The Economist, CNBC and The New York Times, who pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh earlier on Friday amid growing concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was still planning to attend the conference. 

“If more information comes out and changes, we can look at that, but I am planning on going,” he told CNBC.

France joins calls for Saudi transparency

France’s foreign ministry said on Friday that it had asked Saudi Arabian authorities to provide detailed answers over the question of what happened to Khashoggi.

“The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul … has raised serious questions about his fate. France asks that the facts be clearly established and that all those who can contribute to the truth fully contribute to it,” Agnes Von der Muhll, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said in a statement.

“This is the message we passed to Saudi authorities. The charges brought against them require that they be transparent and provide a complete and detailed response”.

Saudi delegation arrives in Ankara

A delegation from Saudi Arabia has arrived in the Turkish capital, Ankara, for an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to two Turkish sources cited by the country’s Anadolu news agency.

Turkish state media also reported the arrival.

The visit follows an announcement on Thursday that Turkey had accepted a Saudi proposal to launch joint investigations into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Amnesty International calls for transparency from Saudi Arabia

Rights group Amnesty International has called for Saudi Arabia to reveal Khashoggi’s “fate and whereabouts at this time”.

“The responsibility is clear for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said MENA Regional Director, Heba Morayef.

During a press conference on Friday, which covered several regional issues, including the war in Syria, Morayef said the possibility of Khashoggi being forcibly disappeared was worrying.

“It is during enforced disappearances that torture happens and that killings can happen so [this is] at the minimum an enforced disappearance and – if it’s true that he was assassinated inside the embassy – then [Saudi Arabia] would also be responsible for extrajudicial executions,” she said.

Audio, video recordings prove Khashoggi killed inside consulate: report

US and Turkish officials told The Washington Post there are audio and video recordings proving Khashoggi was tortured and murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Video recordings show a Saudi assassination team seizing the journalist after he walked in on October 2. He was then killed and his body dismembered, the officials told the Post – the newspaper that Khashoggi wrote for as a columnist.

The audio was particularly gruesome, the sources said.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one official speaking anonymously because the intelligence is classified.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured, and then murdered.”

Another unnamed official confirmed men could be heard beating Khashoggi on the recording.

It was unclear how the Turkish and American officials obtained the recordings.

Security expert says Turkey likely has secret evidence of killing

David Katz, CEO of Global Security Group, told Al Jazeera the intelligence officials quoted by The Washington Post likely have audio and video that clandestinely recorded Khashoggi’s killing.

“There is clearly tension between the Saudis and the Turkish government, so that suggests Turkey is going to be directing its very considerable intelligence apparatus at everything to do with the Saudi government in Turkey for sure,” said Katz.

“So it’s very possible that they do in fact have audio and video recordings of things that have gone on inside the consulate, whether that was bugs planted or electronic intercepts. So you wouldn’t really need full forensics if you have evidence of that nature. And if the report in The Washington Post is correct, that’s apparently what they have.”

Katz said spies have “robust electronic devices” that can allow them to listen to what’s going on inside buildings from outside.

“You’ll actually hear what happened, you’ll hear the voices. There was a suggestion there was an interrogation followed by a very brutal murder. If that’s the case – and if that’s on audio and/or videotape – you don’t need anything else. That’s the case right there.”

Critical Saudi royal says he was targeted with plan to ‘disappear’ him

Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud, a Saudi prince living in exile in Germany, told The Independent that luring dissidents to meetings to “disappear” them is a common strategy used by Saudi leaders.

Al-Saud alleged Saudi officials plotted to abduct him days before Khashoggi vanished, adding that it was part of a plan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to keep adversaries quiet.

“Over 30 times the Saudi authorities have told me to meet them in the Saudi embassy, but I have refused every time,” al-Saud told the UK newspaper. 

“I know what can happen if I go into the embassy. Around 10 days before Jamal went missing, they asked my family to bring me to Cairo to give me a cheque. I refused.”

He said at least five Saudi royals last week approached the leadership in Riyadh about Khashoggi’s disappearance, and they were detained.

“Just five days ago a group tried to visit King Salman saying they were afraid for the future of the al-Saud family. They mentioned Mr Khashoggi’s case. They were all put in jail,” said Saud.

Everyone is “scared”, he added.

Media companies, journalists drop out of Saudi event

Media companies are pulling out of a Saudi investment conference because of growing outrage over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Economist Editor-In-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes will not participate in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, spokeswoman Lauren Hackett said in an email.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, a CNBC anchor and New York Times business journalist, tweeted he was not attending the conference, saying he was “terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder”.

The New York Times also decided to pull out of the event as a media sponsor, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.

The Financial Times said in a statement that it was reviewing its involvement as a media partner.

Virgin’s Branson halts talks on $1bn Saudi investment in space ventures

British billionaire Richard Branson said his Virgin Group would suspend its discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund over a planned $1bn investment in the group’s space ventures.

“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government,” Branson said in a statement.

Branson also said he would suspend his directorship in two Saudi tourism projects around the Red Sea, citing Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund said it planned to invest about $1bn in Branson’s space company, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.

“We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr Khashoggi,” Branson said on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its investigation of the journalist’s disappearance and that they were also working with Saudi Arabia.

TV show dedicated to Khashoggi

Prominent Palestinian-British activist and TV presenter Azzam Tamimi dedicated his show on Thursday night to his missing friend and fellow journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi writer was supposed to be a guest on the programme on the Alhiwar TV Channel to talk about his future projects. Instead, the studio featured a framed photograph of Khashoggi.

Tamimi said he saw Khashoggi in London after his first visit to the Saudi consulate and the day before his disappearance.

“Well, I was horrified because he assured me when we were in London that there was nothing to be concerned about. He said on Friday he had been to the consulate. They received him very well although they were initially surprised to see him and promised him that if he came back again a few days later, they would issue him the papers he was after.

“So he felt it was okay, but apparently they prepared a trap for him,” Tamimi said.

‘You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes’

US Senator Lindsey Graham told Al Jazeera that he has read US intelligence that points to the Saudi government’s involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“I’ve already seen the intel. It was very unnerving. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this out,” Graham said.

“If it turns out that this man was killed or mistreated by the Saudi government, we expect stuff like this from [Russian President Vladmir] Putin and we come down hard on him when he does it. So, everything we did to Putin, I want to do to Saudi Arabia,” Graham added.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Al Jazeera: “Everything that we know points to the Saudi government and yet none of us want to jump to conclusions. If I had to bet today, they ordered it, they killed him and probably very high-level people were aware of it.”

“We have got to send a signal early on that going around killing journalists is totally inappropriate and if he [Saudi crown prince] has been involved there’s got to be sanctions.”

A protester wears a mask of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman outside the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC [Jacquelyn Martin/AP]

Thursday, October 11

Saudi envoy returns to Riyadh 

Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington heads back to Riyadh to gather information on the whereabouts of Khashoggi. 

“I’m told that he’s headed back to his home country, and we expect some information when he gets back,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a media briefing. 

Turkish-Saudi team in joint probe  

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported a Turkish official as saying that Ankara and Riyadh will form a joint group to look into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Earlier in the day, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, warned against Saudi Arabia’s participation in the official probe.

“Given that Saudi Arabia will not provide any evidence about Khashoggi’s movements in and out of the consulate, they cannot be trusted to conduct a genuine – far less effective – investigation,” Whitson said. 

Istanbul’s public prosecutor said he would continue the current investigation separately. 

Turkey to make probe results public 

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has promised to share the results of the probe into the journalist’s disappearance. 

“We will share with the international community everything we will learn in the course of the investigation,” Cavusoglu said in a televised announcement during a trip to Iraq.

US Senator: Journalist’s death may merit sanctions at ‘highest level’

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said sanctions will be imposed at the “highest levels” of the Saudi leadership if Riyadh is found to have a hand in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

“If it turns out to be what we think it is today but don’t know, there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels,” the Republican senator said. 

Trump: No reason to stop Saudi investments 

US President Donald Trump said he saw no reason to block Saudi Arabian investments in the US despite concern over Khashoggi’s disappearance, saying the Gulf nation would then just move its money into Russia and China.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, also said the US was expecting a report soon on the case, but gave no other details.

‘US must pressure Saudi’ – Marwan Bishara

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said Washington had to act and pressure the Saudis if it wanted to defend its credibility. 

“We cannot ignore the fact that there is huge public pressure brewing now in the United States, in Europe and indeed around the world,” Bishara said. 

“There is a moral aspect to it as well as an economic and geopolitical one. That’s why I said the only way for a win-win situation whereby the US can have the moral upper hand on this is by pressuring the Saudis which will allow them to continue the economic and military relationship with Riyadh.”

Trump: US assisting Turkish investigators 

The United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its investigation of the disappearance of Khashoggi, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday, adding that they are also working with Saudi Arabia.

“We’re being very tough. And we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey, and frankly, we’re working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Fox & Friends programme.

US senator calls for halt in Saudi arms sales

US Kentucky Senator Rand Paul demanded a halt in military support to Saudi Arabia until Khashoggi is “returned alive”.

In an article in The Atlantic, Paul said that he planned to introduce legislation to scrap “all funding, training, advising, and any other coordination” with the kingdom until they received confirmation that the journalist is alive.

“The regime must be held accountable for Jamal Khashoggi,” he said.

Erdogan: Turkey ‘cannot remain silent’ 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has increased pressure on Riyadh over the disappearance of Khashoggi, saying that Ankara ‘cannot remain silent to such an incident”.

Speaking to reporters as he returned from a visit to Hungary, Erdogan expressed disbelief at Saudi claims that Khashoggi disappeared without being picked up by security cameras after leaving the consulate.

“How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?” he said.

“If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and [I believe] they would have the most advanced of systems,” he said.

Erdogan added that the investigation by Turkey’s legal, security and intelligence bodies is ongoing.

Consular source heard screams and sounds of struggle

Turkish investigators have heard testimony from a source who was inside the Saudi consulate at the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance who claims to have heard sounds of a struggle, according to Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Istanbul.

“I have learned earlier that, among the evidence with the investigation is testimony from inside the consulate at the time that Jamal [Khashoggi] was there, which includes hearing sounds of loud screams and shouting, as well as calls for help and the sound of a struggle and then sudden silence,” he said.

Turkish foreign ministry sources denied to Al Jazeera that Saudis rescinded their authorisation for Turkish authorities to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The ministry’s remarks came after some media outlets claimed that Saudi Arabia cancelled an offer to allow Turkish authorities onto the premises after Turkish state-owned media published a list of the 15 Saudi nationals who allegedly arrived in Istanbul on the same day Khashoggi disappeared.

Turkish investigators are also requesting to search a number of vehicles registered to the consulate, along with the home of the consul general, which is a few hundred metres from the consulate, after a van with tinted windows was seen leaving the consulate and driving to the home a couple of hours after Khashoggi entered.

Titles of ‘assassination squad’ revealed

The identities of at least eight of the alleged 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” that Turkish authorities believe carried out Khashoggi’s assassination are beginning to come to light.

The head of the forensic unit in the Saudi defence forces, a former head of intelligence at the Saudi Arabian embassy in London and several special forces officers are among the group, which flew into Istanbul on Tuesday, October 2, Al Jazeera reports.

All 15 men had booked four nights in hotels near the Saudi consulate but left Turkey less than 24 hours after arriving.

Report: Prince Salman ordered Khashoggi operation 

The Washington Post reports Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself ordered an operation targeting Jamal Khashoggi.

Based on US intelligence intercepts, Saudi officials were heard discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi from the US state of Virginia, where he resides, back to Saudi Arabia where he would be detained, the newspaper said, citing unnamed US officials.

It was not clear to the officials with knowledge of the intelligence whether the Saudis discussed harming Khashoggi as part of the plan to capture him, it said.

His friends told the Post that Khashoggi had been approached by Saudi officials with close ties to the crown prince over the past four months with offers to reconcile and return to the kingdom, including being given a prominent role in the government.

The writer was sceptical of the offers, however.

“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,'” said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May.

Trump: Saudi assassination ‘looking a bit like that’

In comments made by President Donald Trump to an American TV network, the US president indicated the Saudis may have killed the critical Saudi journalist.

Asked in a telephone interview with Fox News Channel late on Wednesday whether the Saudis were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance or death, Trump said: “I guess you would have to say so far it’s looking a little bit like that, and we’re going to have to see.”

During the interview, Trump expressed reluctance to act on calls to withhold US arms sales to the kingdom, saying that US jobs and economic strength are tied to such trade deals.

“Part of that is what we’re doing with our defence systems and everybody’s wanting them. And frankly, I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you’re affecting us and, you know, they’re always quick to jump that way,” he said.

More than 20 Republican and Democratic senators instructed Trump to order an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance under legislation that authorises imposing sanctions on perpetrators of extrajudicial killings. 

American senators threaten arms sales repercussions

US Senator Chris Murphy said if Saudi Arabia had lured a US resident into a consulate and killed him, “it’s time for the United States to rethink our military, political and economic relationship with Saudi Arabia”.

Senator Rand Paul, a long-time critic of the Saudi government, said he’ll try to force a vote in the Senate this week blocking US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He said he wants to end arms shipments if there’s “any indication” the Saudis are “implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them”.

Karen Elliott House, a veteran writer on Saudi affairs and chairwoman of the board of trustees at RAND Corp, said US support for the Yemen war is likely to be the focus of congressional criticism, but it won’t endanger a relationship that has endured for decades, underpinned by shared strategic interests.

Even under the Obama administration, which had difficult relations with Riyadh compared with Trump, there were some $65bn in completed arms sales, she noted.

“The US-Saudi relationship is certainly not about shared moral values,” House said. “It’s about shared security interests.”

Saudi official condemns ‘malicious’ accusations

The Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, has described the allegations as “malicious leaks and grim rumours” and said the kingdom is “gravely concerned” about Khashoggi.

Saudi officials maintain he left the consulate shortly after entering, though it has failed to provide evidence to back that up, such as video footage.

Senior US officials call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The White House said National Security Advisor John Bolton and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner – Donald Trump’s son-in-law – spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi’s disappearance over the past two days.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed up with his own call to the crown prince, who has forged close ties to the Trump administration, especially Kushner.

“In both calls, they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

White House officials said the Saudis provided little information.

US senators trigger human rights probe

Twenty-two US senators signed a letter to President Donald Trump triggering a US investigation into whether human rights sanctions should be imposed on Saudi Arabi over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In the letter, the senators said they triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, requiring the president to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for a gross human rights violation.

“Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia,” the senators said.

Trump told reporters earlier he raised Khashoggi’s case with Saudi Arabia “at the highest level” and more than once in recent days.

“We want to see what’s going on. It’s a very serious situation for us and for this White House… We want to get to the bottom of it,” said Trump.

Wednesday, October 10

US adviser suspends Saudi role

Ernest Moniz, who served as President Barack Obama’s energy secretary, said he has suspended his role on the board of Saudi Arabia’s planned megacity NEOM until more is known about the fate of Khashoggi.

“I share the deep concerns of many about the disappearance and possible assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul,” Axios cited Moniz as saying.

Moniz is one of 18 people advising Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the $500bn NEOM project. 

Turkey and Saudi Arabia ‘in talks’

The New York Times writes that Saudi officials on Tuesday began for the first time to contact Turkish counterparts for secret talks about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“The Saudis have told Washington that they believe they can smooth over the issue, according to both Turkish and American officials briefed on the discussions,” the NYT wrote.

Khashoggi’s Apple watch 

A Turkish security official told Reuters news agency the Apple smartwatch Khashoggi was wearing at the time of his disappearance was being looked into by Turkish investigators. 

They said the watch was connected to a mobile phone Khashoggi left outside and security and intelligence agents in Turkey believe it may provide important clues as to Khashoggi’s whereabouts or what happened to him.

If the watch and phone were connected to the internet and the devices were close enough to synchronise, data from the watch – saved to the cloud – could potentially provide investigators with information such as the journalist’s heart rate and location.

“We have determined that it was on him when he walked into the consulate,” a security official said. “Intelligence services, the prosecutor’s office, and a technology team are working on this.”

Trump wants answers

President Donald Trump says the US is “demanding” answers from Saudi Arabia about Khashoggi and that he wants to bring his fiancee to the White House.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that he has a call in to Hatice Cengiz.

“People saw him go in and didn’t see him come out. We’re going to take a very serious look at it. It’s a terrible thing,” Trump said. “This is a bad situation. We cannot let this happen – to reporters, to anybody.”

Fifteen-member ‘hit squad’

Turkish media have published images of an alleged 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” and video of suspicious movements at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul following Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Saudi Arabia remained silent as the images, though not offering definitive proof about Khashoggi’s fate, played across television networks in Turkey and around the world.

Turkish media airs surveillance video

News channel 24, a private Turkish TV channel close to Erdogan, has aired surveillance video of Khashoggi walking into the Saudi consulate and a black van leaving later for the consul’s home.

The channel aired the video, suggesting that Khashoggi was inside of the black Mercedes Vito.

It said the van then drove some to the consul’s home, approximately 200 metres from the consulate, where it parked inside a garage.

Saudi Arabia did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Khashoggi’s fiancee writes letter to Trump

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, is asking Trump and first lady Melania to “help shed light” on his disappearance.

In a column published Wednesday by the Post, she wrote: “I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”

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