Allies challenge Saudis on Writer’s killing

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Missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Arabia is facing growing demands for more answers over the death of writer Jamal Khashoggi.

The UK’s Brexit minister was the latest to call the explanation Khashoggi had died after a “fist fight” in the consulate in Istanbul “not credible”.

US President Donald Trump has said he is “not satisfied”, joining the EU and UN in calling for more clarity. Turkish officials believe the critic of the Saudi government was murdered and his body dismembered.

Khashoggi entered the consulate on 2 October to sort out divorce papers. Saudi Arabia initially said he had left shortly afterwards but has now admitted he died inside the building.

UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said of the explanation: “I don’t think it is credible. We support the Turkish investigation and the British government will want to see people held to account for that death.”

However, he reflected the cautious stance of Trump on possible actions against Saudi Arabia.

Raab said: “We are not going to throw our hands in the air and terminate our relationship with Saudi Arabia, not just because of the huge number of British jobs that depend on it but also because if you exert influence over your partners you need to be able to talk to them.”

CCTV footage shows missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

On Saturday, Trump had said: “I’m not satisfied until we find the answer.” But the US president said that, although sanctions were a possibility, halting an arms deal would “hurt us more than it would hurt them”.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated that on Sunday, saying talk of sanctions was “premature”.

On Saturday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Saudi “explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged transparency, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke of unanswered questions and Australian PM Scott Morrison said: “This cannot stand. This will not do.”

Top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini and UN chief Antonio Guterres have said those responsible must be held to account. Amnesty International has called the Saudi explanation a whitewash of “an appalling assassination”.

The Washington Post, which published articles by Khashoggi, said the Saudi government had “shamefully and repeatedly offered one lie after another”. (BBC)

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