U.S. seeks info on Saudi writer

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and mem­bers of Congress de­manded an­swers Wed­nes­day from Saudi Ara­bia about the fate of a prom­i­nent Saudi writer and govern­ment critic who dis­ap­peared a week ago af­ter en­ter­ing his coun­try’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

Trump said he didn’t know what hap­pened to Ja­mal Khashoggi and ex­pressed hope that the 59-year-old writer was still alive, but se­nior mem­bers of Congress said they were start­ing to fear the worst.

Repub­li­can Sen. Bob Corker, who has re­viewed in­tel­li­gence re­ports on the dis­ap­pear­ance as chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said that “the like­li­hood is he was killed on the day he walked into the con­sulate” and that “there was Saudi in­volve­ment” in what­ever hap­pened with Khashoggi, who wrote col­umns for The Wash­ing­ton Post.

“The Saudis have a lot of ex­plain­ing to do be­cause all in­di­ca­tions are that they have been in­volved at min­i­mum with his dis­ap­pear­ance,” Corker told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “Ev­ery­thing points to them.”

Khashoggi, a wealthy for­mer govern­ment in­sider who had been liv­ing in the U.S. in self-im­posed ex­ile, had gone to the con­sulate Oct. 2 to get pa­per­work he needed for his up­com­ing mar­riage while his Turk­ish fi­ancee waited out­side.

Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have said he was killed by mem­bers of an elite Saudi “as­sas­si­na­tion squad,” an al­le­ga­tion the Saudi govern­ment has dis­missed.

The Saudi govern­ment has be­come a closer U.S. ally un­der Trump, and some law­mak­ers warn that re­la­tions could be jeop­ar­dized if it turns out the king­dom was in­volved in his dis­ap­pear­ance.

Trump told re­porters in the Oval Of­fice that he has a call in to Khashoggi’s fi­ancee, Hat­ice Cen­giz, who has ap­pealed to the pres­i­dent and first lady Me­la­nia Trump for help.

Trump said he had spo­ken with the Saudis about what he called a “bad sit­u­a­tion,” but he did not dis­close de­tails of his con­ver­sa­tions.


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