DUBAI Saudi Arabia faced a growing chorus of incredulity on Sunday over its explanation of how critic Jamal Khashoggi died inside its Istanbul consulate, as world powers demanded answers and the whereabouts of his body.
After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted on Saturday that the columnist was killed after entering the consulate on October 2, a disappearance that sparked outrage and plunged the Gulf kingdom into a spiralling international crisis.
Turkish officials have accused Riyadh of carrying out a state-sponsored killing and dismembering the body, with pro-government media in Turkey reporting the existence of audio/video evidence to back those claims. Police have searched a forest in Istanbul where they believe his body may have been dumped.
US President Donald Trump said accused Saudi Arabiaof lying about the columnist’s death while the EU, Germany, France, Britain, Australia, Canada and the UN also demanded greater clarity.
“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” he said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh. “Their stories are all over the place.”
“I don’t think it’s credible,” Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Sunday, adding there was a “serious question mark over the account that has been given”.
“We support the Turkish investigation into it and the British government wants to see people held to account for that death.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said many questions remained unanswered while German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged transparency, adding that “available reports on what happened in the Istanbul consulate are insufficient.”
“Canada condemns the killing of Khashoggi,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
The EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini and UN chief Antonio Guterres both called for a proper investigation and for the perpetrators to be held to account.
Meanwhile, Trump warned against scrapping a multibillion-dollar arms deal with the kingdom.
Saudi official provides another version of death
A new account of the writer’s death, laid out by a senior Saudi official, includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi on Oct 2 had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped. But they ended up killing him in a chokehold when he resisted. A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.
Internal ntelligence documents appeared to show the initiative was to bring back dissidents— a the specific one involving Khashoggi. He did not provide proof to substantiate the findings .
Asked why the version kept changing, the official said the initial account was based on “false information reported internally.”
Khashoggi’s fiancee’s parting msg
Khashoggi’s fiancee has published a final message to him. “They took your bodily presence from my world. But your beautiful laugh will remain in my soul forever. My darling #jkhashoggi,” she wrote. In an attached clip of a TV interview, Khashoggi, is shown being interrupted by a cat which hops on his lap, making him laugh. “You should leave this in the film,” he tells the journalist.