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jamal khashoggi case


The trial of 20 Saudi nationals accused of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has begun in absentia in Turkey.

Jamal Khashoggi, 59, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Those being tried include two former top aides to Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Jamal Khashoggi was a vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia carried out a separate trial over the killing that was heavily criticized as incomplete.

The trial in Istanbul follows an international outcry over the murder, which tarnished the prince’s reputation.

Turkish prosecutors accuse the former deputy head of Saudi intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri, and the royal court’s media adviser Saud al-Qahtani of having led the operation and instructed a Saudi hit team.

The other 18 defendants are accused of having suffocated Jamal Khashoggi, whose remains have not been found. Turkish officials say his body was dismembered and removed to an unknown site.

Jamal Khashoggi, who was resident in the US, had entered the consulate seeking papers for his impending wedding.

The journalist’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz is attending the trial alongside the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, who has directly linked the crown prince to the killing, AFP news agency reports.

The Saudi authorities initially denied any involvement in the case, but later called it a “rogue operation”.

In December 2019, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death and three to jail for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, but the trial was secretive and the defendants were not named.

Image source www.alaraby.co.uk

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The CIA and some Western governments believe the murder was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – something he denies. The crown prince is de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

UN special rapporteur Callamard says Jamal Khashoggi was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible”.

At the time of his death Jamal Khashoggi worked for the Washington Post.

The prosecutors have charged Ahmed al-Asiri and Saud al-Qahtani with “instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment”.

Hatice Cengiz is hoping that the trial will reveal significant new evidence and finally reveal what happened to Jamal Khashoggi’s remains.

Saudi Arabia has refused Turkey’s extradition request for suspects in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said: “We do not extradite our citizens.”

Just over a week ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded the extradition and on December 5 a Turkish court issued arrest warrants.

The Saudis have charged 11 people with the murder, which took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

Arrest warrants were issued in Turkey for former Saudi intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and former royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani.

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Adel al-Jubeir criticised the way Turkey has shared information with Saudi Arabia.

He said: “The Turkish authorities have not been as forthcoming as we believe they should have been.

“We have asked our friends in Turkey to provide us with evidence that we can use in a court of law. We have not received it in the manner that it should have been received.”

President Erdogan says the order to kill Jamal Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government but insists he does not want to damage the Saudi royal family.

The Saudi government denies that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the killing.

The Saudi public prosecutor has said Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate as a result of a “rogue operation” on the orders of an intelligence officer.

Jamal Khashoggi was given a lethal injection after a struggle. The journalist’s body was then dismembered inside the consulate in Istanbul and the body parts were handed over to a local”collaborator” outside the grounds, the prosecutor said.

According to recent reports, the CIA believes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sources close to the CIA said it had assessed the evidence in detail.

It is understood there is no “smoking gun” but US officials think such an operation would need the crown prince’s approval.

However, Saudi Arabia has called the claim false and insisted that Prince Mohammed knew nothing about plans for the killing.

Saudi Arabia insists Jamal Khashoggi was killed as a result of a “rogue operation”.

The White House says President Donald Trump has spoken to CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the CIA’s assessment of the Khashoggi murder.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders gave no details but said President Trump had confidence in the CIA.

Before the briefing, the president stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia to the United States, as he has done since news of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing emerged.

While there has been widespread international condemnation of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder there has been little in the way of substantial action.

Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a marriage document. The journalist’s body has not been found.

Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead

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Turkey also insists the order to the Saudi dissident came from the highest levels.

The Washington Post, which Jamal Khashoggi worked for, says the CIA assessment was based partly on a phone call made by the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US.

Prince Khalid allegedly called Jamal Khashoggi at the direction of his brother and gave him assurances that he would be safe to go to the consulate.

However, Prince Khalid, now back in Saudi Arabia, tweeted that he had not been in contact with Jamal Khashoggi for nearly a year.

The prince said he had never suggested Jamal Khashoggi – who had been in London for a conference until the day before his disappearance – should go to Turkey for any reason.

It is understood CIA agents have also examined a call made to a senior aide of Crown Prince Mohammed by the team that carried out the killing.

Sources quoted in the media stressed that there was no single piece of evidence linking Crown Prince Mohammed directly to the murder, but officials believe such an operation would have needed his approval.

At a news conference in Riyadh on November 15, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaan said Jamal Khashoggi was given a lethal injection and his body was dismembered inside the consulate after his death.

The body parts were then handed over to a local “collaborator” outside the grounds, the prosecutor added.

A composite sketch of the collaborator has been produced and investigations are continuing to locate the remains.

Eleven unidentified people have been charged over Jamal Khashoggi’s death and the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five of them.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has confirmed that his country’s intelligence has heard an audio recording of the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

He said: “Canada has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share.”

PM Trudeau is the first Western leader to confirm his country has listened to the purported tape of the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

On November 10, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he had given copies to the US, UK, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia.

“We gave them the tapes,” he told reporters before flying to Paris for a gathering of world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

“They’ve also listened to the conversations, they know it.”

Image source www.alaraby.co.uk

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However, the US has not said whether it has received a tape and France’s foreign minister has said it is not in possession of one as far as he is aware.

Saudi Arabia has admitted a team of agents murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic who was living in self-imposed exile in the US and writing for the Washington Post, and it has arrested 18 people allegedly involved.

At a news conference in Paris on November 12, PM Justin Trudeau said Canadian intelligence agencies had been working very closely with Turkey on the murder investigation.

He added: “I had a conversation with Erdogan a couple of weeks ago over the phone. Here in Paris we had brief exchanges and I thanked him for his strength in responding to the Khashoggi situation.”

When asked whether Canada had heard the purported audio recordings, PM Trudeau said “yes”. But he added that he had not listened to them personally.

According to recent reports, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada’s spy service, travelled to Turkey to discuss the investigation and listened to the recording.

The director then briefed PM Trudeau and other Canadian officials on his visit to Turkey.

Justin Trudeau sidestepped a question about whether such evidence would have consequences for Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“We are in discussions with our like-minded allies as to the next steps with regard Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Justin Trudeau has faced calls to cancel a $13 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia for tanks and armored fighting vehicles built by an Ontario-based unit of the American firm General Dynamics.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada are already strained. In August, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of violating its sovereignty and froze new trade after Canadian officials called for the release of detained civil society and women’s rights activists.

On November 12, Turkey reacted angrily after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian contradicted President Erdogan’s assertion that France had received an audio recording from the consulate and accused the Turkish leader of playing “political games”.

Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 2 television: “The truth isn’t out yet. We want to know the truth, the circumstances of his death and the identity of the culprits. Then we will take the necessary actions.

“If the Turkish president has information to give us, he must give it to us. For now, I don’t know about it.”

Asked if that meant President Erdogan was lying, the foreign minister replied: “It means that he has a political game to play in these circumstances.”

The Turkish presidency’s communications director called the comments “unacceptable” and insisted a representative of French intelligence had listened to the tape on October 24.

Fahrettin Altun told AFP: “If there is miscommunication between the French government’s various agencies, it is up to the French authorities – not Turkey – to take care of that problem.”