A man was arrested in France on Tuesday on the suspicion of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, AP reported, citing an unidentified French judicial officer.
The French authorities made the arrest based on a warrant issued by the Turkish government last year.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been critical of Saudi Arabia, was murdered allegedly at the behest of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Khashoggi’s body was said to have been dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and disposed of elsewhere. His remains were never found.
The man arrested by the French Police on Tuesday has been identified as Khali Aedh al-Otaibi. He had featured in the 2021 United States intelligence report, which claimed that an elite team of 15 members had killed Khashoggi on behalf of Mohammad bin Salman.
On Tuesday, the French Police said that al-Otaibi has been detained at a border police detention facility at Charles de Gaulle airport, near Paris, Reuters reported. He will be taken to court on Wednesday for a hearing on his extradition to Turkey.
Christophe Deloire, the director of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said that they had been following al-Otaibi’s activities for a long time, AP reported.
“Sometimes governments close their eyes about people who are pursued by justice in another country,” he said. “I note with satisfaction that there was an arrest, and the police didn’t close their eyes this time.”
Meanwhile, the Saudi Embassy in Paris said that the French authorities have arrested the wrong man, AP reported. Officials demanded that al-Otaibi be release immediately as he had “nothing to do with the case in question”.
An unidentified security official in Saudi Arabia added that “Khaled al-Otaibi” was a very common name in the country, AFP reported. The official added that the al-Otaibi the French authorities thought they were holding was serving time in prison in Saudi Arabia along with “all the defendants in the case”.
In 2020, a Saudi Arabian court had handed out sentences to eight accused in the Jamal Khashoggi murder case.