Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Jamal Khashoggi case: US intel heard Saudis discussing plot against journalist

Jamal Khashoggi case: US intel heard Saudis discussing plot against journalist

President Trump said Wednesday that he has spoken to the Saudi government "at the highest levels" about the situation.

"Would be nice to definitively rule out that the Saudis are paying the president massive bribes in exchange for tacit approval for murdering critics!"

The Washington Post, citing USA intelligence intercepts, reported that Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to trap Khashoggi.

A team of investigators is preparing to go into the consulate, where Khashoggi was last seen entering nine days ago, a Turkish security official told Reuters. Turkish authorities have said he was killed by members of an elite Saudi "assassination squad", an allegation the Saudi government has dismissed.

The letter sent to Trump by the bipartisan group of senators increases the pressure on the administration to act. The Post, citing anonymous USA officials familiar with the intelligence, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Jamal Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

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President Donald Trump revealed that First Lady Melania Trump has joined the effort to "get to the bottom" of what happened to missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"I'd have to find out really before I discuss this, I'd have to find out what happened", Trump told Fox News. Bob Corker, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reviewed United States intelligence on the case, said it was likely that Khashoggi was killed the day he walked into the consulate.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been the Trump administration's point person on Saudi Arabia.

Britain's foreign secretary on Thursday warned that Saudi Arabia faces "serious consequences" if the suspicions of Turkish officials that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul turn out to be true. The wealthy former government insider had been living in the United States in self-imposed exile.

Dana Ahmed, a Saudi Arabia researcher with Amnesty International, said that Khashoggi's case "sends a shockwave" through the Saudi Arabian dissident community, both inside the country and overseas.

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Yet Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Erdogan, wrote in a newspaper column today that "bashing Saudi Arabia is meaningless and useless" because "Turkey and Saudi Arabia are two nations that need each other". According to the New York Times, officials in Istanbul believe he was killed on orders from the royal court of Saudi Arabia.

When I asked him why he made a decision to live in the United States, he said America was the world's most powerful country, where one could feel the political pulse of the planet.

And several of Khashoggi's friends said over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection - and even a high-level tjob working for the government - if he came back to his native country. "We're demanding everything", Mr Trump said when asked if he was demanding information from the Saudis. I received an answer that further fueled my fears: Jamal had already left, they told me, possibly without my noticing.

Signs of such a challenge began to emerge Monday night when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Saudis to "support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation".

Bob Corker, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reviewed USA intelligence on the case, said it was likely that Khashoggi was killed the day he walked into the consulate.

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"The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights", the letter said.

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