22 Oct 2018

Pressure on Saudi Arabia increases over Khashoggi killing

11:44 am on 22 October 2018

The Saudi Foreign Minister has described the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside his country's consulate in Istanbul as a murder, and a huge, grave mistake.

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Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Photo: AFP

The Saudi authorities finally admitted the dissident writer was killed in the consulate earlier this month, saying he died in a fist fight.

Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News that the journalist was murdered, blaming rogue agents for a killing.

"And what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up, that is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen. We have been very clear that we will leave no stone unturned."

Adel al-Jubeir said he did not know the location of Mr Khashoggi's body.

And he insists the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had not been aware of the incident.

The Foreign Minister's response has sparked an international outcry.

New York Times Middle East correspondent Ben Hubbard told RNZ's Labour Day programme many western countries are sceptical about the Saudi version of events.

"...based on some of the other information that's come out. Nearly three weeks after Jamal Khashoggi disappeared into the consulate almost all of the information has been driven by Turkey... that led to a fairly substantial narrative of what happened to him which was pretty grim."

Turkish officials have said he was deliberately killed inside the consulate, and his body dismembered.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he is going to speak about the incident in "full nakedness" on Tuesday.

"The big question is really if he's going to lay out the evidence that Turkey has for some of the truly explosive allegations that its officials have made off record or have made anonymously. There's talk about there being some kind of audio recording that was done while Mr Khashoggi was being killed... we're not 100 percent sure it exists," said Ben Hubbard.

"There will be a lot of people watching on Tuesday to see what kind of evidence he's really going to put out justifying or explaining what the Turks say they know about how this incident happened."

NZ government condemns killing

In a joint-statement yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker said the New Zealand government continued to condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

"With the confirmation of the death we express our deepest condolences to Mr Khashoggi's family and friends. Those responsible for his death must be held accountable," Mr Peters said.

"While this is an important admission, the killing by government operatives is deeply disturbing. Many questions remain unanswered."

"We look forward to the results of the investigation being led by Turkey and we urge Saudi Arabia to implement its undertaking to participate openly and transparently in that investigation," he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials met with the Saudi Embassy in Wellington on Tuesday to raise New Zealand's concerns over Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and have reiterated to the Saudi Embassy the need for the investigation to be full and transparent.

Trade Minister David Parker said no New Zealand officials would attend the upcoming Future Investment Initiative ('Davos in the Desert') event in Riyadh.


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