Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has today declared the murder of Jamal Khashoggi a ‘heinous crime that cannot be justified’.
In a defiant speech at the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh, the kingdom’s de facto ruler insisted Saudi Arabia was cooperating ‘to bring the perpetrators to justice’.
But in his first such remarks since the killing of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, he also accused unnamed forces of using the case to drive a wedge between his country and Turkey.
‘Undoubtedly the cooperation between the Saudi and Turkish government 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.
‘I want to send them a message – they will not be able to do that as long as there is a king called Salman bin Abdulaziz.’
After cheers from the audience, he added: ‘And a Crown Prince called Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and a president in Turkey called Erdogan…. This wedge will not happen and we will prove to the world that we are cooperating to bring the perpetrators to justice.’
Prince Mohammed also gave an optimistic prediction of his country’s future development, vowing it would be ‘totally different’ in five years as it diversified away from oil. ‘I believe the new Europe is in the Middle East’, he added.
The speech came hours after US President Donald Trump said the Crown Prince may be behind Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has spoken publicly for the first time since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, calling the killing a ‘ heinous crime that cannot be justified’
In a defiant speech at the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh, the kingdom’s de facto ruler (pictured) insisted Saudi Arabia was cooperating ‘to bring the perpetrators to justice’
US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be behind Jamal Khashoggi’s death
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured in Ankara today) has vowed to bring Jamal Khashoggi’s killers to justice
Erdogan (pictured today) said he was ‘determined not to allow’ the murder of the Saudi journalist to be ‘covered up’ and promised to share any new evidence Turkey acquires in a ‘transparent manner’
Khashoggi (pictured) went missing after entering the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on October 2
The economic summit, which debuted last year with global business titans in attendance, has been overshadowed by Khashoggi’s slaying and the international outrage over it.
Prince Mohammed immediately addressed the killing after taking the stage.
‘The crime was really painful to all Saudis. I believe it is painful for every human in the world.’
Prince Salman was keen to keep the main focus on economic issues, telling the conference that his country would be ‘totally different’ in five years, vowing to pursue sweeping reforms to diversify its economy away from oil.
‘I believe the new Europe is the Middle East,’ he said. ‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in five years will be completely different.
‘If we succeed in the coming five years, other countries will join us,’ he said.
In separate comments, Prince Salman made a joke about Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri getting ‘kidnapped,’ after his bizarre resignation last year on a trip to the kingdom.
The prince said that Hariri ‘will be here for two days, so no ideas (please that) he’s been kidnapped.’
The audience at the Future Investment Initiative laughed and applauded.
Hariri resigned last year as prime minister during a trip to Riyadh, something many believe he was forced to do by Prince Mohammed. Hariri later left the kingdom and rescinded his resignation. He’s been on other trips back since.
The royal’s appearance came after Trump said the Crown Prince bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to the journalist’s killing, piling pressure on his ally.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted to believe the 33-year-old prince when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: ‘Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.’
Earlier, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to bring Jamal Khashoggi’s killers to justice.
Erdogan said he was ‘determined not to allow’ the murder of the Saudi journalist to be ‘covered up’ and promised to share any new evidence Turkey acquires in a ‘transparent manner’.
Footage shows a diplomatic car belonging to the Saudi Consulate entering Istanbul’s Belgrad Forest the day before Khashoggi’s murder
The Crown Prince is set to address the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh on Wednesday afternoon. Pictured: summit participants arrive at the event in Riyadh
A tough critic of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Khashoggi, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate (pictured) in Istanbul to collect a document for his upcoming marriage
Erdogan today spoke on the phone with the Saudi Crown Prince for first time since Khashoggi’s murder. The two discussed ‘the issue of joint efforts and the steps that need to be taken in order to shed light on the Jamal Khashoggi murder in all its aspects,’ a source said.
It comes a day after the Turkish leader said 59-year-old Khashoggi was the victim of a pre-planned ‘savage murder’.
Erdogan said today: ‘We are determined not to allow the murder to be covered up and for those responsible – from the person who gave the order to those who executed it – not to escape justice.’
As the de facto ruler of the kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has been widely blamed for the death, which was carried out by a hit squad of senior Saudi intelligence officials. Critics suspect he ordered the high-profile operation or at least knew about it.
Turkish officials say Khashoggi was killed by a 15-man Saudi hit squad that included a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on overseas trips.
A day before Khashoggi’s death, agents arrived from overseas and began to scout locations, including the Belgrad Forest near Istanbul and the city of Yalova to its south, Erdogan said on Tuesday.
Police have searched both areas for evidence of Khashoggi’s remains, Reuters has reported.
On Wednesday, Turkish media released images of what they said was a consulate vehicle with diplomatic licence plates used in carrying out exploratory searches in the Belgrad forest ahead of the killing.
Saudi Arabia has suggested, without offering evidence, that the team went rogue and that Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’ with officials sent to encourage him to return to the kingdom.
Saudi suspects in Khashoggi killing to be BANNED from UK, says May as she reveals plan to call King Salman about ‘not credible’ explanation
The suspected murderers of Jamal Khashoggi will be banned from travelling to Britain, Theresa May said today.
The Prime Minister revealed she would speak to King Salman of Saudi Arabia later today to tell him Britain does not find the explanation of the killing ‘credible’.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will cancel any outstanding visas held by the suspected murderers, Mrs May told the Commons.
The suspected murderers of Jamal Khashoggi will be banned from travelling to Britain, Theresa May said today
Mrs May told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions: ‘We condemn the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the strongest possible terms and after his disappearance we made clear that Saudi Arabia must co-operate with Turkey and conduct a full and credible investigation.
‘The claim that has been made that Mr Khashoggi died in a fight does not amount to a credible explanation so there does remain an urgent need to establish what has happened in relation to this.’
She added that she would speak to King Salman on Wednesday and Home Secretary Sajid Javid is ‘taking action against all suspects to prevent them entering the UK’.
‘If these individuals currently have visas, those visas will be revoked today,’ she told MPs.
Mrs May confirmed no minister or official was in Saudi Arabia today for a major trade conference. Trade Secretary Liam Fox cancelled plans to attend last week.
Yesterday, Khashoggi’s son Salah glared at the Crown Prince and shared a stern handshake with him during a meeting in Riyadh.
King Salman was also present as the royals ‘offered their condolences’ to grieving family members, who included Salah’s brother Sahel. A friend of the Khashoggi family said the government banned them from leaving the country last year in a bid to pressure the journalist to return home.
The crown prince has appeared a panel alongside Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Saad Hariri, whose resignation in a televised address from the Saudi capital in mysterious circumstances last year sparked rumours he was being held against his will.
The summit is the prince’s brainchild, an effort to draw much-needed foreign direct investment into the kingdom to create jobs for its young population.
However, many international business leaders have pulled out of attending the summit over Khashoggi’s slaying.
Trump, meanwhile, continued to criticise the kingdom over Mr Khashoggi’s killing.
‘The cover-up was horrible. The execution was horrible,’ Mr Trump told journalists on Tuesday night at the White House. ‘But there should have never been an execution or a cover-up because it should have never happened.’
Jamal Khashoggi’s son glared at the Saudi royal blamed for the death of his father yesterday. Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi was pictured shaking hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to Saudi Arabia’s throne, in Riyadh during a meeting also attended by King Salman
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, has announced that the United States is revoking the visas of some Saudi officials implicated in Mr Khashoggi’s death.
The visa revocations are the Trump administration’s first punitive measures against the Saudis, who are seen as key allies in US efforts to isolate Iran, since Mr Khashoggi disappeared.
Mr Trump meanwhile has been criticising Saudi Arabia and OPEC over high oil prices, calling for a production increase to drop gasoline prices ahead of America’s midterm elections.
The foreign ministers of the G7 group of nations said Saudi Arabia should conduct a credible investigation, ‘in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities’.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this afternoon, that Khashoggi’s ‘heinous murder’ would have been unthinkable ‘without US backing.’
‘I don’t think that any country would dare do such a thing without US backing,’ Rouhani said in remarks to cabinet broadcast on state television.
Rouhani said that before Khashoggi’s murder ‘it would have been unthinkable that in this day and age we would witness such an organised felony.
‘It is extremely significant that an institution planned such a heinous murder.
‘The tribal group that is ruling that nation (Saudi Arabia) has a security margin. That security margin is that it relies on US backing. It is this superpower that is backing them.’
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Key moments surrounding the writer’s disappearance and death
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the kingdom’s policies and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say a 15-men team tortured, killed and dismembered the writer, while Saudi Arabia says he died in a ‘fistfight.’
Here are some key moments in the slaying of the Washington Post columnist:
BEFORE HIS DISAPPEARANCE
September 2017: The Post publishes the first column by Khashoggi in its newspaper, in which the former royal court insider and longtime journalist writes about going into a self-imposed exile in the U.S. over the rise of Prince Mohammed. His following columns criticize the prince and the kingdom’s direction.
September 28, 2018: Over a year after the Post published his first column, Khashoggi visits the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, seeking documents in order to get married. He’s later told to return October 2, his fiancee Hatice Cengiz says. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a plan or a ‘road map’ to kill Khashoggi was devised in Saudi Arabia during this time.
September 29: Khashoggi travels to London and speaks at a conference.
October 1: Khashoggi returns to Istanbul. At around 4.30pm, a three-person Saudi team arrives in Istanbul on a scheduled flight, checks in to their hotels then visits the consulate, according to Erdogan. The Turkish president says another group of officials from the consulate travel to a forest in Istanbul’s outskirts and to the nearby city of Yalova on a ‘reconnaissance’ trip.
Jamal Khashoggi (right) arriving at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2
THE DAY OF HIS DISAPPEARANCE
3.28am, October 2: A private jet arrives at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport carrying some members of what Turkish media will refer to as a 15-member Saudi ‘assassination squad.’ Other members of the team arrive by two commercial flights in the afternoon. Erdogan says the team includes Saudi security and intelligence officials and a forensics expert. They meet at the Saudi Consulate. One of the first things they do is to dismantle a hard disk connected to the consulate’s camera system, the president says.
11.50am: Khashoggi is called to confirm his appointment at the consulate later that day, Erdogan says.
1.14pm: Surveillance footage later leaked to Turkish media shows Khashoggi walking into the main entrance of the Saudi Consulate. No footage made public ever shows him leaving. His fiancee waits outside, pacing for hours.
3.07pm: Surveillance footage shows vehicles with diplomatic license plates leaving the Saudi Consulate for the consul general’s home some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.
5.50pm: Khashoggi’s fiancee alerts authorities, saying he may have been forcibly detained inside the consulate or that something bad may have happened to him, according to Erdogan.
7pm: A private plane from Saudi Arabia carries six members of the alleged Saudi squad from Istanbul to Cairo, the next day returning to Riyadh.
11pm: Seven members of the alleged Saudi squad leave on another private jet to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which the next day returns to Riyadh. Two others leave by commercial flights.
Erdogan confirms reports that a ‘body double’ – a man wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, glasses and a beard – leaves the consulate building for Riyadh with another person on a scheduled flight later that day.
CCTV images showed a a private jet alleged to have been used by a group of Saudi men suspected of being involved in Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death
October 3: Khashoggi’s fiancee and the Post go public with his disappearance. Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi visited the consulate and exited shortly thereafter. Turkish officials suggest Khashoggi might still be in the consulate. Prince Mohammed tells Bloomberg: ‘We have nothing to hide.’
October 4: Saudi Arabia says on its state-run news agency that the consulate is carrying out ‘follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building.’
October 5: The Post prints a blank column in its newspaper in solidarity with Khashoggi, headlined: ‘A missing voice.’
October 6: The Post, citing anonymous Turkish officials, reports Khashoggi may have been killed in the consulate in a ‘preplanned murder’ by a Saudi team.
October 7: A friend of Khashoggi tells the AP that officials told him the writer was killed at the consulate. The consulate rejects what it calls ‘baseless allegations.’
October 8: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey is summoned over Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged killing.
October 9: Turkey says it will search the Saudi Consulate as a picture of Khashoggi walking into the diplomatic post surfaces.
October 10: Surveillance footage is leaked of Khashoggi and the alleged Saudi squad that killed him. Khashoggi’s fiancee asks President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump for help.
October 11: Turkish media describes Saudi squad as including royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert. Trump calls Khashoggi’s disappearance a ‘bad situation’ and promises to get to the bottom of it.
October 12: Trump again pledges to find out what happened to Khashoggi.
October 13: A pro-government newspaper reports that Turkish officials have an audio recording of Khashoggi’s alleged killing from his Apple Watch, but details in the report come into question.
October 14: Trump says that ‘we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment’ if Saudi Arabia is involved. The kingdom responds with a blistering attack against those who threaten it, as the manager of a Saudi-owned satellite news channel suggests the country could retaliate through its oil exports. The Saudi stock exchange plunges as much as 7 percent at one point.
Khashoggi (pictured), went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul
October 15: A Turkish forensics team enters and searches the Saudi Consulate, an extraordinary development as such diplomatic posts are considered sovereign soil. Trump suggests after a call with Saudi King Salman that ‘rogue killers’ could be responsible for Khashoggi’s alleged slaying. Trump says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to the Mideast over the case. Meanwhile, business leaders say they won’t attend an economic summit in the kingdom that’s the brainchild of Prince Mohammed.
October 16: A high-level Turkish official tells the AP that ‘certain evidence’ was found in the Saudi Consulate proving Khashoggi was killed there. Pompeo arrives for meetings in Saudi Arabia with King Salman and Prince Mohammed. Meanwhile, Trump compares the case to the appointment of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, saying: ‘Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent.’
October 17: Pompeo meets with Turkey’s president and foreign minister in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Turkish police search the official residence of Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul and conduct a second sweep of the consulate.
October 18: A leaked surveillance photograph shows a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage walked into the consulate just before Khashoggi vanished there.
October 20: Saudi Arabia for the first time acknowledges Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, claiming he was slain in a ‘fistfight.’ The claim draws immediate skepticism from the kingdom’s Western allies, particularly in the U.S. Congress.
October 22: A report says a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office around the time Khashoggi was killed. Police search a vehicle belonging to the Saudi consulate parked at an underground garage in Istanbul.
CCTV emerges showing a Saudi intelligence officer dressed in a fake beard and Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes and glasses on the day he went missing.
October 23: Erdogan says Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi after plotting his death for days, demanding that Saudi Arabia reveal the identities of all involved.
October 25: Changing their story again, Saudi prosecutors say Khashoggi’s killing was a premeditated crime.
November 2: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government. Earlier the same day, Yasin Aktay, a ruling party adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he believed the body had to have been dissolved in acid.
November 4: Khashoggi’s sons Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi issue appeal for his remains to be returned so that he may be buried in Saudi Arabia.
November 10: President Erdogan says Turkey gave the audio recordings linked to the murder to ‘Saudi Arabia, to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the British’.
November 13: Turkish media reports that the luggage carried by the Saudi ‘hit squad’ included scissors, defibrillators and syringes that may have been used against Khashoggi.
November 15: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announces that he is seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder. Shalaan al-Shalaan said the person who had ordered the killing was the head of the negotiating team sent to repatriate him, and exonerated Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. On the same day, the U.S. Treasury announces sanctions against 17 Saudi officials, including the Consul General in Turkey, Mohammed Alotaibi.
November 16: A CIA assessment reported in the Washington Post finds that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination.
November 18: Germany bans 18 Saudi nationals believed to be connected to the murder from entering Europe’s border-free Schengen zone. Berlin also announces it has as halted previously approved arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid the fallout.