AS PRESSURE MOUNTS ON RIYADH, TRUMP SAYS HE EXPECTS ANSWERS ON THE WEEKEND ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMAL KHASHOGGI. MEANWHILE CANADA’S OUSTED ENVOY SAYS HUMAN RIGHTS CAN’T DRIVE POLICY.
U.S. PRESIDENT WAITING FOR REPORT ON WHAT HAPPENED TO MISSING WRITER
The United States will get answers on the missing Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi “by the end of the week,” Donald Trump said Wednesday, as pressure mounted on the Gulf kingdom over gruesome new details of the suspected murder.
Trump said he “did not like” that Riyadh was “guilty until proven innocent” and would wait for a full report on what might have happened to Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.
“I just want to find out what’s happening,” the U.S. president said, responding to accusations that his administration was soft-pedalling its response. “I’m not giving cover at all.”
Trump indicated that Washington would not lightly abandon its alliance with Riyadh — a historic customer for the U.S. weapons industry and “partner in the fight against terrorism.”
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, was dispatched to Turkey after visiting Saudi Arabia, where he was pictured laughing during what appeared to be a jovial meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
His meeting with Turkish officials came hours after Yeni Safak, a Turkish newspaper, claimed to have an audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder. The newspaper said Khashoggi made the recording using an app on his Apple watch. The audio describes the 60-year-old Washington Post columnist as having his fingers cut off and being decapitated minutes after entering the consulate.
The newspaper said Saudi Consul-General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on the tape, telling those who were allegedly torturing Khashoggi: “Do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble.”
The newspaper said a man identified as Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, a forensic pathologist, replied: “Shut up if you want to live when you return to (Saudi) Arabia.”
He told the others to put on headphones and listen to music while he took seven minutes to dismember the body.
Trump said the U.S. was asking Turkey for the audio, “if it exists,” though sources in Ankara have previously indicated they have already shared it with Washington.
The president has posited that “rogue killers” could be responsible, a claim that would allow the ruling family to distance themselves from the alleged murder, but one widely viewed as implausible in light of the growing evidence.
Trump said: “I hope that the (Saudi) king and the crown prince didn’t know about it. That’s the big factor in my eyes, and I hope they haven’t.”
Investigators were Wednesday night searching the residence of the Saudi Consul-General. Turkish reports suggested vehicles with diplomatic plates were driven from the consulate to Otaibi’s home a mile away, where it is said parts of Khashoggi’s body were either dumped or buried.
International pressure on the kingdom is growing. John McDonnell, the U.K. shadow chancellor, said Britain should consider sanctions on Saudi Arabia. Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, has delayed a scheduled trip to Saudi over its growing concern over the columnist’s fate. And the G7 foreign ministers said they remained “very troubled” by the dissident’s disappearance.
Turkish police search the rooftop of the Saudi Arabian consulate general residence as investigations continue into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey.