Suspects in Saudi journalist case tied to top prince

Turkish officials say they believe Khashoggi - a United States resident and Washington Post columnist critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and his body removed.

The Washington Post published a column it received from his assistant after he was reported missing in which Khashoggi condemns the crackdown on journalists by Arab governments and the failure of the global community to respond. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. This is the last piece of his I will edit for the Post", Attiah wrote.

A team of Turkish investigators searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for a second time after investigating the consul's residence.

Officials in Turkey believe Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate, but his death has not been confirmed.

Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz said he entered the consulate at around 1 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) on October 2, as she accompanied him but waited outside.

A critic of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the USA and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before he vanished.

Khashoggi wrote that most Arab countries were silencing or controlling journalists with impunity, and lamented that the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 didn't usher Arab society to a freer and more progressive place as he and others had hoped. "I know what I'm going to do and I'm going to sanction the hell out of Saudi".

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud has said claims "about orders to kill [Mr Khashoggi] are lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom".

Khashoggi's editor said the article "perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world".

Saudi Arabia's al-Arabiya broadcaster claimed the 15 men were "tourists".

"I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so we can get a complete understanding (of) the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make a decision about how the United States should respond to the issues surrounding Mr. Khashoggi", Pompeo said.

Britain, France and Germany had also called on the Saudi and Turkish authorities to mount a "credible investigation" into the disappearance of Khashoggi, saying they were treating the incident with "utmost seriousness". "I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he will not attend an investment conference in Saudi Arabia.

"We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced".

"We approach them as though they're honest people dealing with us wanting to improve the lives of the people in the country they come from", he said.

  • Eleanor Harrison