Trump vows ‘severe punishment’ if Khashoggi killed
● Turkey says Saudi must co-operate with probe, allow access to consulate
US President Donald Trump said in a CBS interview yesterday that there would be “severe punishment” for Saudi Arabia if it turns out that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Trump said he did not want to block military sales to Saudi Arabia, one option that has rattled US defence contractors, saying, “I don’t want to hurt jobs.”
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a US resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post, disappeared on October 2 after visiting the consulate. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment,” Trump said.
Asked whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman gave an order to kill Khashoggi, Trump said, “Nobody knows yet, but we’ll probably be able to find out.” Trump added in excerpts of the 60 Minutes interview that will air today, “We would be very upset and angry if that were the case.”
Trump said there was much at stake with Khashoggi case, “maybe especially so” because he was a reporter.
Major US defence contractors have expressed concern to the Trump administration that lawmakers angered by Khashoggi’s disappearance will block further arms deals with Riyadh.
But Trump said he did not want to lose military sales to Saudi Arabia that are coveted by US competitors Russia and China, also exporters of military equipment.
“I don’t want to lose an order like that,” he said, mentioning the companies Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon. “And you know what, there are other ways of punishing,” he said, without elaborating.
Turkish sources have told Reuters the initial assessment of the police was that Khashoggi was deliberately killed inside the consulate.
Riyadh has dismissed the claims.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Saudi Arabia must co-operate with the investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi and let Turkish officials enter its consulate.
Cavusoglu spoke to reporters during a visit to London, after a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey for a joint investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“We have not yet seen cooperation on this subject and we want to see it,” Cavusoglu said in the comments, which were broadcast on Turkish television.
Turkish newspaper Sabah reported yesterday that Turkey’s investigation into Khashoggi’s fate after he entered the Saudi consulate revealed recordings made on his Apple Watch purportedly indicating he was tortured and killed.
However, it was not clear whether data from Khashoggi’s watch could have been transmitted to his phone outside, or how investigators could have retrieved it without obtaining the watch themselves.
Technology experts say it is highly unlikely the watch could have recorded actions inside the embassy and uploaded them to an iCloud account.
Most models of the watch require that it be within 30 to 50ft (9-15m) of the iPhone it is paired with to upload data to Apple’s iCloud, they said.
Even newer models that can communicate with the cloud directly via wireless require either connection to a nearby Wi-Fi network or a type of cellular connection that is not available in Turkey, the experts said.
Apple Watch does not unlock with a fingerprint, which the Sabah report said Saudi agents used to access the device, and it does not include a recording capability by default, the experts said.
Apple Inc declined to comment on the Sabah story.
Meanwhile Prince Mohamed’s big October conference – the Future Investment Initiative dubbed by media as the “Davos in the Desert” after the annual conference in the Swiss resort – has suffered a litany of cancellations over the controversy.
Key business figures like the chief executive of ride hailing app Uber – into which the Saudi’s own investment fund injected money – are no longer showing up while media groups like the New York Times, Financial Times and Bloomberg have pulled their sponsorship.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that he still planned to attend, as did IMF chief Christine Lagarde although she said she was “horrified” by the case.
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