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U.S. senators trigger human rights probe over missing Saudi journalist

11 October 2018

ISTANBUL-Turkish media published images Wednesday of an alleged 15-member Saudi "assassination squad" and video of suspicious movements at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance a week ago, putting new pressure on the kingdom amid growing global concern for the writer. It was unclear from this whether Saudi Arabia wanted to then kill him or arrest him, or if USA officials made Khashoggi aware of this, the source said.

"We want to find out what happened", Trump said.

Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered that Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi be lured to that country from his home in the USA and detained, the paper reported Wednesday evening. It's a very serious situation for us and for this White House.

At least 15 Saudi journalists and bloggers have been arrested over the past year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday, following the disappearance of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And we will get to the bottom of it.

Asked about a Washington Post report that USA intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi, Trump said, "It would be a very sad thing and we will probably know in the very short future".

The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a contributor, published a surveillance image Tuesday showing the Saudi reporter at the consulate.

But Riyadh has insisted that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, and that they are unaware of his whereabouts.

Corker says, "the Saudis have a lot of explaining to do because all indications are that they have been involved at minimum with his disappearance".

More than 20 Republicans and Democratic senators on Wednesday instructed Trump to order a probe into Khashoggi's disappearance under legislation that authorizes imposition of sanctions for perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross human rights violations.

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Earlier, the Washington Post reported that USA intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi.

His fiancée, waiting outside, said he never emerged and Turkish sources said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission.

The Trump administration is left with an awkward lack of information about a widely respected writer who had been living in self-imposed exile in the USA for the past year after fleeing a crackdown on intellectuals and activists in Saudi Arabia.

If confirmed, it would offer proof that the Saudi government was attempting to silence Mr Khashoggi.

Government sources in Turkey said police believe the 59-year-old was killed inside the consulate, claims which Riyadh dismissed as "baseless". The videos show one of two private jets arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport early in the morning on October 2, the date Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate to arrange papers for a marriage.

The Saudi ambassador in London, Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz, has so far declined invitations by the BBC to give an explanation on behalf of the Saudi government for Khashoggi's disappearance since 2 October. "We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before", Trump said.

"I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate", Cengiz wrote. Paul is pushing Congress to block future arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that between 25 and 30 professional and non-professional journalists are now detained in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. senators trigger human rights probe over missing Saudi journalist