The latest on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
There won’t be any official Australian representation at Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative aka “Davos in the desert” in light of Saudi Arabia admitting the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a press release Saturday from Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne.
The statement says that “Australia deplores the killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi” and extends “our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” calling him a “strong voice for freedom of expression.”
Australia joins a list of several major nations and investors pulling out the of the conference including the US, France, UK and the Netherlands.
US President Donald Trump said Friday that he believes Saudi Arabia's explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called the arrest of 18 Saudis "a good first step."
After 18 days in which Saudi Arabia adamantly denied that any harm had come to Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul, it committed a startling about-face.
Not only did Riyadh admit that Khashoggi came to a violent end, it pinned the blame on some of the closest aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.
Republican lawmaker Corey Stewart joins CNN's Anderson Cooper to discuss the ongoing blowback from the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi:
Two weeks after journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, the Kingdom announced he died and said it would bring the people responsible to justice.
Saudi Arabia's statement, read aloud on Saudi State television, said investigators worked with Turkish officials to determine what happened. There was a deadly altercation and now 18 Saudi nationals have been detained.
The case of the disappearance of the citizen Jamal bin Ahmed Khashoggi drew the attention of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the highest levels, and due to the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, the Kingdom took the necessary procedures to clarify the truth and began by dispatching a security team to Turkey on 6 October 2018 to investigate and cooperate with counterparts in Turkey.
In addition to Major General Ahmed al-Asiri being relieved of his duties, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) issued a statement by Royal Court Order that Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Al-Saud relieved Saud al-Qahtani from his duties as Royal Court Consultant.
On Twitter, Saud thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their trust.
"I offer my ardent thanks and acknowledgement to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the Crown Prince for the great trust they put in me and for giving me this great opportunity to be honored with serving my country in the last few years," he wrote on Twitter. "I will remain a faithful servant to my country for all of time. Our country will remain valuable and proud, God willing."
A separate statement from SPA included the names of other officers relieved of their duties by Saudi King Salman also by Royal Court Order. The statement didn't mention the Jamal Khashoggi investigation but was released among a series of announcements relating to the investigation by the Saudi Press Agency.
The names in the statement are:
- Intelligence chief assistant for intelligence affairs -- Mohamed bin Saleh Al-Ramih
- Intelligence chief assistant for human resources -- Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Shayee
- Head of the general department for security and protection at the intelligence presidency -- Rashad bin Hamed Al-Mohammady
President Trump said he believes the Saudi explanation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death is credible.
"I do. I do," Trump said when asked about his confidence in the explanation, which claims Khashoggi died in a fist fight at the country's consulate in Istanbul.
"Again, it’s early. We haven’t finished our review, our investigation. But I think it’s a very important first step," he added.
President Trump said talks with Saudi officials would continue, including raising some questions about their account of events that led to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
"We’ll be talking to them," Trump said. "We may have some questions. We do have some questions."
He said he would work with Congress to develop a response.
"I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanctions -- this was a lot of people they’re talking about. ... I would prefer we don’t use as retribution canceled $110 billion worth of work," he said to reporters after a roundtable at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Trump said he would withhold a fuller comment until he speaks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
President Trump offered a positive initial reaction to news that Saudi Arabia identified who they say were responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"I just saw it," Trump said after a roundtable at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. "I think it’s a good first step. It’s a big step. It’s a lot of people involved."
"It's early," he said later. "We haven't finished our review."
Trump continued: "I think it's a very important first step and it happened sooner than people thought it would happen."
The announcement: Saudi Arabia has confirmed Khashoggi's death, claiming he died in a fist fight at the country's consulate in Istanbul.
An announcement carried on Saudi state TV said discussions between Khashoggi and officials at the consulate quickly turned violent, and ended in his death. Five high-ranking officials have been removed from their posts, including the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service, and 18 Saudis have been detained, state TV said.
The statement was the first official confirmation of Khashoggi's death in Turkey 18 days ago, and the first acknowledgment by Saudi Arabia of its role in it.