The governments of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada on Sunday rejected Saudi Arabia’s latest explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said they would wait for the full report from Turkish authorities before deciding how they would deal with Riyadh, The Guardian reported.
Riyadh on Saturday admitted after days of denials that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, allegedly after a quarrel and a brawl with unidentified men.
However, in a conflicting report, an unidentified official told Reuters on Sunday that a team of 15 agents had acted without Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s authorisation to kidnap the journalist. He was accidentally choked after resisting and his body was rolled up in a rug and given to a local person for disposal, the official said.
A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate, the official told the news agency. It had taken Riyadh so long to investigate the journalist’s death as the agents had given authorities a false report, the official added.
“I do not think it is credible,” the UK’s Brexit Minister Dominic Raab told BBC. “We support the Turkish investigation and the British government will want to see people held to account for that death.”
He, however, struck a cautious note when asked about imposing sanctions on Riyadh. “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,” the minister said.
Earlier in the day, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said “full light needs to be shed” on the incident. “I note that the Saudi authorities have changed tack, admitted the facts and accepted some responsibility, so we are making progress,” he added.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minster Heiko Maas said information provided by the Saudis was insufficient and sought more transparency from Riyadh, DW reported. “We expect transparency from Saudi Arabia regarding the circumstances of the death and its background,” the two leaders said in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry. Merkel said “nothing has been explained so far and we need to explain it”.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has described Khashoggi’s death as a “shocking violation” of international conventions, and on Saturday Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrsytia Freeland said “the explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility”.
United States President Donald Trump was also “not satisfied” by Saudi’s explanation. “I’m not satisfied until we find the answer,” he said. He said that sanctions were a possibility, but that halting an arms deal would “hurt us more than it would hurt them”, BBC reported.
Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017. He has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. On Wednesday, audio recordings accessed by a Turkish daily suggested that Khashoggi was tortured before being decapitated inside the consulate.