News ID: 232704
Published: 0228 GMT October 13, 2018

Trump threatens Saudis with 'punishment' over missing journalist

Trump threatens Saudis with 'punishment' over missing journalist

US President Donald Trump threatened Saudi Arabia on Saturday with "severe punishment" if a journalist was killed inside its Istanbul consulate.

With the mystery over Jamal Khashoggi unresolved 11 days after he walked into the consulate and failed to reappear, a pro-government Turkish daily said the Saudi national had recorded his own interrogation inside the mission on an Apple Watch, AFP wrote.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and lurid claims have been leaked to media that he was tortured and even dismembered.

Saudi insists Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor whose writings have been critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left the building safely but has yet to offer visual evidence of this.

The outcry surrounding his disappearance threatens to not just harm brittle Turkey-Saudi relations but also alarm the kingdom's supporters in the West.

"We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment," Trump told CBS.

"They (Saudi) deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes," Trump said in the interview.

But he again voiced his reluctance to limit US arms sales to the kingdom, which analysts see as one of Washington's key potential levers.

The Saudi delegation was in Turkey and due to have talks this weekend in Ankara and take part in a working group on the disappearance, official Turkish media said. The NTV channel said the 11 person delegation had on Friday inspected the consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdel Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef slammed claims that the kingdom ordered Khashoggi to be killed inside the consulate.

The spokesman of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, Omer Celik, acknowledged Saturday that there were "extremely sensational claims" about Khashoggi's fate in the media and said there would be "severe consequences" for anyone found responsible if they were true.

The latest claims reported by the pro-government Sabah daily said that Khashoggi had been wearing an Apple Watch when he entered the consulate which was synced with an iPhone left outside with his fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

It said that the watch had recorded what happened inside the consulate and this was uploaded to his cloud, although Saudis sought to partially delete it.

"The moments of Khashoggi's questioning, torture and killing were recorded on the Apple watch," said Sabah.

 Meanwhile Prince Mohammed's big October conference – the Future Investment Initiative dubbed by media as the "Davos in the Desert" after the annual conference in the Swiss resort – has suffered a litany of cancellations over the controversy.

Key business figures like the chief executive of ride hailing app Uber – into which the Saudi's own investment fund injected money – are no longer showing up while media groups like the New York Times, Financial Times and Bloomberg have pulled their sponsorship.

British media said UK officials have begun drawing up a list of Saudi security and government officials who could potentially come under sanctions pending the outcome of investigations into the disappearance of Khashoggi.





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