Saudi Arabia now says Khashoggi's killing was premeditated, reversing previous statements

Dwayne Harmon
October 27, 2018

That earlier assertion, in turn, backtracked from an initial statement that Saudi authorities knew nothing about what happened to the columnist for The Washington Post, who vanished after entering the consulate October 2.

"We have maintained since the beginning that the Khashoggi murder was premeditated", a senior Turkish official told The Washington Post shortly after the Saudi announcement on Thursday.

Pence, who spoke in Washington at an event hosted by The Washington Post, said whatever USA response the president decides to make will keep in mind the importance of US relations with Saudi Arabia - an alliance that he noted has been in existence since shortly after World War II.

The leaks also seemed meant to whip up a sense of anticipation ahead of the speech by Erdogan, who has chided the Saudis in recent weeks for not cooperating with the Turkish investigation but stopped short of blaming the Saudi government for Khashoggi's death.

In an internal e-mail sent widely to US State Department employees, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US wants ideal clarity on exactly what happened in the death of Khashoggi.

Turkey's president has said Saudi officials murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their Istanbul consulate after plotting his death for days.

In his remarks Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan said Saudi authorities had taken an important step in confirming Mr. Khashoggi's death.

He told reporters that Turkey had no intention of taking the case to an worldwide court but would share information if an global inquiry were launched.

Two sources told Reuters on Thursday that Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel has heard the recording during her visit to Turkey this week.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince struck the tone of outraged leader rather than alleged suspect in his first public speech since the murder of a Saudi journalist in Istanbul three weeks ago.

The Crown Prince made the joke during his appearance on the second day of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, in the presence of Hariri, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Bahrain Crown Prince Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

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CIA Director Gina Haspel on Thursday briefed Trump on the evidence about Khashoggi's death that she reviewed during a trip to Turkey.

How Western allies deal with Riyadh will hinge on the extent to which they believe responsibility for Khashoggi's death lies directly with the prince and the Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia has detained 18 people.

An official in Washington said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had "raised the safety and security of the Khashoggi family members with the Saudi leadership", but declined to discuss the specifics of Salah's travel.

Meanwhile, the crown prince has attended the first meeting of a committee aiming to restructure the kingdom's intelligence services after the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

On Tuesday, the police searched an abandoned auto belonging to the Saudi consulate in an underground vehicle park in the Sultangazi district of Istanbul.

Erdogan vowed Turkey would not allow the culprits to get away with "savage murder".

The king assured Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Thursday that the Saudi government was determined to hold the guilty parties accountable and make sure "they receive their punishment", according to the official Saudi press agency.

Trump spoke Sunday with the crown prince, who is the son of Saudi King Salman.

"Undoubtedly, the cooperation today between the Saudi and Turkish governments is unique and we know that many are trying to use this painful thing to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey", he said.

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