Four top U.S. senators triggered an investigation Wednesday into the disappearance of a Saudi journalist under a U.S. law intended to hold human rights abusers to account.
U.S. President Donald Trump has 120 days to report back to Sens. Bob Corker, Bob Menendez, Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy after they sent him a letter requesting a probe under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Jamal Khashoggi has not been heard from since Oct. 2, when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.
In a letter, the minority and majority leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the leaders of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the State Department called on Trump to determine whether imposing sanctions "with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi" is warranted.
"The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights," the senators wrote in the letter, which was co-signed by a group of 18 bipartisan senators.
"Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia," they added.
The Magnitsky Act, passed in 2012 after a Russian whistleblower died in custody in circumstances that remain dubious, requires the president to conduct an investigation to determine if sanctions are warranted to respond to human rights abuses.
Trump said earlier Wednesday that he spoke at the "highest" levels to Saudi officials about Khashoggi's disappearance but did not specify with whom he has been in conversation with.
Addressing reporters at the White House, Trump said the U.S. will "get to the bottom of" the journalist's mysterious vanishing.
"I'm not happy about this. We have to see what happens," Trump said, adding that the U.S. has been in contact with Turkish officials about the case.
Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi while several countries -- particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK -- have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.
According to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. After being told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.
Khashoggi called the consulate and was told "that documents are being prepared" and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz but was not seen after entering it.
On the same day, 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while Khashoggi was also inside, police sources said.
All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
Trump discusses Khashoggi with senior Saudi leader
U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he discussed the disappearance of a Washington Post journalist with an unnamed senior Saudi leader at the "highest level.""It's a very serious situation for us and this White House," Trump told reporters at the White House, noting talks have taken place "more than once.""I think we'll get to the bottom of it," said Trump. "I'm not happy about this. We have to see what happens."Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2.Investigation for missing journalist will definitely reveal something, says Khashoggi's fiancéeHis fiancee appealed to Trump to assist in efforts to find him Tuesday, penning an opinion piece in the Washington Post newspaper."This much is true: He entered the consulate, and there’s no proof that he came out," wrote Hatice Cengiz."At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance. 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," she added.Trump said the White House has been in contact with Cengiz and hopes to meet her "fairly quickly."Saudi prince allegedly sought to lure KhashoggiHe declined to comment on Khashoggi's possible fate, but said "we cannot let this happen; to reporters, to anybody." The U.S. has been in contact with Turkish officials about the case, Trump said.Turkish security sources on Wednesday identified eight out 15 suspects linked to Khashoggi's disappearance.According to the Turkish police sources, 15 Saudis, including several officials who arrived on the two planes, entered the consulate in Istanbul while Khashoggi was inside.Prosecutors are investigating the incident, while the consulate said on Twitter it is working in coordination with Turkish authorities.Video: Footage emerges of 15-member Saudi intelligence team arriving in IstanbulTurkey on Monday conveyed its expectation of "full cooperation" from Saudi Arabia in the search for the missing journalist.Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton and senior advisor Jared Kushner spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman about Khashoggi on Tuesday, the White House confirmed in a statement.Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke to Salman in a "follow up call" that sought to "reiterate the United States request for information.""In both calls they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as available,” she said.
US senator warns ‘hell to pay’ if Khashoggi murdered
There will be "hell to pay" if Saudi Arabia killed a missing Washington Post journalist, a senior senator tersely warned Wednesday.Lindsey Graham, who said he will be meeting with the Saudi's envoy to Washington on later Wednesday, said thus far Riyadh's explanations for Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance "make no sense.""I've never been more disturbed than I am right now," Graham told reporters at the Capitol building, but he cautioned against rushing to judgement regarding Khashoggi's fate.Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and has not been heard from since amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.Investigation for missing journalist will definitely reveal something, says Khashoggi's fiancée"If this did, in fact, happen, if this man was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that would cross every line of normality in the international community," he said. "If it did happen there would be hell to pay."The dire warning is the second issued Wednesday.Congressman Ro Khanna also said the U.S. should reassess its relationship with the kingdom if Khashoggi was killed by Riyadh."If the allegations are true, I hope this is a serious wake-up call to the Trump Administration and DC more broadly that we need a complete reevaluation of our relationship with Saudi Arabia," Khanna, who has been a fierce critic of Riyadh's campaign in neighboring Yemen, said in a statement.Saudi prince allegedly sought to lure Khashoggi"From the war in Yemen, to their recent diplomatic expulsion of our NATO ally Canada, it’s time we come to grips with the reality that this relationship is not serving our interests. This is what happens when you embolden authoritarian dictators around the world," he added.U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he spoke at the "highest" levels to Saudi officials about Khashoggi's disappearance, but did not specify who he has been in talks with.The acknowledgement comes one day after a bicameral and bipartisan pair of lawmakers issued a letter to the president asking him to "personally" raise the issue with Saudi and Turkish authorities."We write to urge you to personally raise the issue of Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and welfare with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We also request that you offer U.S. support to any independent investigation into his disappearance," wrote Senator Tim Kaine and Gerry Connolly, who represent the state of Virginia in their respective chambers.Addressing reporters at the White House Trump said the U.S. will "get to the bottom of" the journalist's disappearance."I'm not happy about this. We have to see what happens," Trump said, adding that the U.S. has been in contact with Turkish officials about the case.Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi while several countries, particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the U.K. have expressed their desires the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.According to his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. Since he was told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.Khashoggi called the consulate and was told "that documents are being prepared" and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz.Before he entered the building, Khashoggi told her to call Yasin Aktay, an advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Turkish-Arab Media Association should he not emerge from the consulate in two hours.The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul has launched a formal investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.The Turkish police department said hours later Khashoggi had not left the building since he entered.On the same day, 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while Khashoggi was also inside, police sources said.All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
Investigation for missing journalist will definitely reveal something, says Khashoggi's fiancée
The fiancée of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said statements made by Saudi officials were "neither enough nor satisfying".In an exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency, Hatice Cengiz said there is smear campaign going on across Saudi Arabia, "which is run by news agencies supported by Saudi regime and troll accounts"."This is utterly saddening. Just these smear campaigns and reflexes against me is showing that there are a lot of suspects in this case."Khashoggi, who is one of the most influential journalists in the Middle East and a Washington Post columnist, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He has not been seen again.According to Turkish police, while Khashoggi was inside, 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and entered the consulate.Istanbul prosecutors are investigating the incident, while the consulate said on Twitter that it was working in coordination with Turkish authorities.Turkey on Monday conveyed its expectation of "full cooperation" from Saudi Arabia in the search for the missing journalist.Saudi Arabia on Tuesday invited Turkish experts and relevant officials to visit the consulate, according to diplomatic sources.Question: "What were the hesitations of your fiancée the day you went to the Consulate? Why did he tell you to call Yasin Aktay and Turan Kislakci if he did not come back?"Hatice Cengiz: Jamal was not that hesitant in our second trip to consulate on Oct. 2. Because his first visit to the Consulate on Sept. 28 was positive. They hosted him well in the consulate and congratulated him because we were getting married. He left the consulate happy and relaxed after his first visit. He even said to me that they were surprised to see him there. There was no negative response regarding the required documents that he needed to receive as well. They told him that they would help him. All of this may have led him not to be hesitant on his second visit to the consulate. Besides, if I had seen him worried of course I would have prevented him from going to the consulate again. All in all, he can analyze what was going on inside better than me. He did not mention any of his worries to me before his second visit. One time, I asked him whom should I get in contact with if there was any unexpected problems that he might face or an issue regarding his political stance about his country. He told me Yasin Aktay is an old friend of his and I can call him. And I know that Turan Kislakci and him are close friends. I called them because of that. He did not especially advise me to call Turan Kislakci.'I experienced a great fear that I never experienced before in my life'Question: It was the second visit he paid to the consulate in the last a few days. What did he talk about, why he was given another appointment for a few days later and did you enter the consulate with him?Hatice Cengiz: As I said, we went to the consulate on Friday Sept. 28 for the first time. We went there to request two documents for marriage procedures, the single status certificate and copy of the birth certificate. The same day, Jamal excused himself after waiting for an hour for his trip to London. He informed them that he would return from London on Tuesday and he would visit the consulate on that day again. In both our visits, I did not enter inside. Those, who do not have anything to do in the consulate are not allowed [inside even] as a companion. Only those who have business inside can enter. And this was what we were told at the door. So I waited outside during both of the visits. When he said he wanted to come again, the relevant people probably said something like 'We will get the documents ready for when you come' and when I asked him 'Are we going to retrieve the documents?', he said 'They talked positively, I hope they will give them'.Question: What did you think when he went inside and did not come out? With what concerns did you call Yasin Aktay and others?Hatice Cengiz: I experienced a great fear that I never experienced before in my life. The world started to turn around my head and I was confused about what to do. After messaging my best friend to come immediately, I ran toward the iron fence of the consulate and I asked the security guard there whether Jamal had left the building or not. The security guard looked at me with surprised eyes and said he did not know who Jamal was, that there was no one inside and everybody had left. Following this answer, I called the consulate. I told them that I was waiting outside, that Jamal went inside at 1.00 p.m. and that he did not come out the door. The officer hung up and came to the door where I was waiting. He told me that he had checked all the rooms and there was no one inside; so it was pointless for me to wait there. At this answer, I blacked out and I immediately called Yasin Aktay and in a rush, I told him about the situation. After Mr. Yasin, I called Turan Kislakci, as well. Right after the security forces heard about it, it was heard on the media as well.'There was no movement that was out of the ordinary'Question: While Mr. Khashoggi was inside, after he entered and the consulate was closed, did you witness any movement in the comings and goings that was out of the ordinary? Were there any unusual vehicles, people leaving the consulate?Hatice Cengiz: There was no movement that was out of the ordinary. Also, the consulate is already located by the street, and entries and exists are by a narrow road. There is usually a traffic jam and many official consulate vehicles are parked. So there was a congestion in front of the consulate. I remember people coming in and out, but I would have asked them if I had noticed anything unusual. I also thought that traffic flowed normally because I did not have the slightest thought that there might be a disappearance or a kidnapping.Question: Mr. Khashoggi went to the Istanbul Consulate to carry out official procedures related to the marriage. Why did he prefer Turkey, but not the U.S.? Could he not do these procedures at the Saudi Arabia Consulate in the U.S.? Is there any special reason for him to choose Istanbul?Hatice Cengiz: I did not ask him 'Why don’t you take the document from the U.S.?', because the marriage was going to be held here. There is no information saying that the document taken from that consulate is valid here. And when we went to the marriage registry office, the officer said that a foreigner getting married could only get the document from the consulate of that country, where the marriage takes place. I do not know if he had made another attempt regarding this issue before coming to our country. But if he had done, he would have told me. Or if he had asked about it and got a negative answer, he would have said that too. On the other hand, Riyadh’s ambassador to Washington said: ‘We talked to Jamal at a program last year, he was a columnist who criticized the Saudi government at a reasonable level’. This was reported by agencies in the late hours of yesterday [Tuesday]. I am sure that if he had asked for the documents he needed from them, I guess the ambassador would say that in his statement. As a result, he wanted to do the procedures here, as he thought it would be done faster and easer in this country.‘Overall, these statements are not consistent’Question: Word could not be received from Mr. Khashoggi after he entered the consulate. Different scenarios are being put forth. In your opinion, what may have happened? Did you find the statements made by Saudi Arabia to be satisfying? What are your thoughts?Hatice Cengiz: Many possibilities are being spoken of. Like everybody else, I am following [the issue] in the press. Since I was with him at the time, the news that he had entered the consulate was certain. However, this image that was published in newspapers yesterday [Tuesday] serves as strong evidence against those who claim that he never entered the building. Now, the other side must present proof that Jamal exited the building. This is because they have alleged that he entered the building and left a short time after. Later, they said that the [security] cameras were not working while Jamal was there. What consulate in the world has cameras that do not work? What’s more, we are talking about a critical country like Saudi Arabia. Moreover, they shared the information that the cameras were not working on the day in question many days after the fact. Overall, these statements are not consistent. Also, the Saudi ambassador was for the first time called to the Foreign Ministry. On the first of these meetings that yielded no results, permission to enter the consulate was requested. Furthermore, I find the statements coming from the Saudis to be neither sufficient nor convincing. Also, a severe smear campaign has been initiated in Saudi Arabia against myself. This is being carried out by both Saudi-supported news agencies and [internet] trolls. This is, of course, quite saddening. Such reflexes alone show that there is much suspicion about the issue. On the other hand, diplomatic proceedings are being held between our country and the consulate since the beginning of the matter as if this is a normal event that is happening. While I am bewildered by this, I believe the administration is acting this way because it has a specific strategy. Progress is very slow but relevant government officials are conducting a serious investigation. A conclusion will be reached based on all documents and inquiries. This conclusion will be revealed to the public if its supporting evidence is strong. It is my opinion that an event unlike anything seen in the 21st century has come to pass. It is a critical period for our country. Journalists are not acting with the same caution we see in state officials. Going on ambiguous information, a few reporters claimed that he has died, and were later unable to prove this. The world was first told that Jamal Khashoggi died and then that it was not certain. Such news is quite difficult for loved ones. I believe that, in any case, Saudi Arabia’s relations with other countries will be severely damaged, particularly those with Turkey. Such an undertaking outside the rules of diplomacy and the rule of law in our country against their own citizen will certainly not be left unanswered and the necessary response will be given.'This investigation will definitely reveal something'Question: Saudi Arabia allowed Turkey to carry out an investigation in the consulate. What do you think about this permission to be given several days after his disappearance. Do you think it will reveal something?Hatice Cengiz: I do not think that the Turkish state only depends on information or documents that it will have within the consulate. Right now the entries and exits to the country are controlled and suspicious footage is being investigated. Therefore, the information/documents that they will gather before the consulate investigation will have a speedy impact on the case. This investigation will definitely reveal something. Besides, the statement from the consulate saying that the cameras were not recording that day makes the issue suspicious from the start.‘I do not believe that the consulate building was especially chosen’Question: In the case that the Saudi regime wanted to silence Mr. Khashoggi for his critical articles, why would they choose the consulate in particular? Does the choice of time and place seem peculiar to you as well?Hatice Cengiz: Nobody really knows the real reason behind this. It looks like they were more uncomfortable than it seemed with the stance that he exemplified and his international popularity than by his existence alone. Even if the accusations are accurate I do not believe that the consulate building was especially chosen. He -- a person critical of them -- had come on his own accord. They may have wanted to turn this into an opportunity. I think that this was an idea someone had that moment. It seems that they then immediately began the planning phase. There is also a message here meant for our country. There is an effort to undermine our sovereignty and the general perception that we are a safe country, as there are many writers and intellectuals in our country who come from the Arab world. This incident is cause for a large crisis leading to a political erosion of trust. The government will take the necessary diplomatic and political steps after what happened is brought to light. To me, the really important point is that Saudi Arabia is not experiencing a normal transition. It is not seeking agreement and contact with Turkey, which it sees as a rival in the region. Each new crisis hurts the relations that are already at a critical level. Saudi-Turkish relations have been most drastically affected by all the crises in the region despite [such a crisis] never occurring between the two countries. There are many divergences in strategy that are points of conflict between the two countries including the Egyptian coup, the Qatar crisis, the Yemen war and Syria. Because of this reason, Saudi Arabia is trying to display a power play, just to overcome the transformation it's going through, especially as it has far from friendly relations with Turkey, the region's most powerful country. However, if the incident occurred and the allegations are indeed true, then Saudi Arabia will have committed an assassination on its own territory. In bloodying its hands on our soil and violating international law, it is making its own image more ambiguous. The Saudis are now receiving many negative messages from the world after looking to send us a message. When the facts come to light, I believe the international pressure will continue.Question: Have government authorities informed you on the ongoing investigation and process? Has there been any contact with Saudi Arabia? Hatice Cengiz: Our country’s authorities are following the matter. Our president is himself following the case. I am also in contact with them. I was informed on a number of points. However, the investigation is ongoing. For that reason, official statements have not yet come. I have never had any contact with the other side.Ex-US energy secretary suspends role in Saudi projectSaudi prince allegedly sought to lure Khashoggi
Ex-US energy secretary suspends role in Saudi project
Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary under President Barack Obama, said Wednesday he has suspended his advisory role in a Saudi mega-project over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist.Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, has not been heard from since Oct. 2 when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.In a written statement, Moniz, who has an advisory role on the board of the $500 billion mega city project NEOM, said "given current events, I am suspending my participation on the NEOM board".He said the suspension will move ahead until more information is made available about Khashoggi's disappearance.Turkey identifies eight of 15 individuals linked with disappearance of Saudi journalistUS ready to assist on missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi: PenceThe NEOM project involves the creation of a huge transnational city and economic zone and covers 26,500 square kilometers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi while several countries -- particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK -- have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.According to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. After being told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.Khashoggi called the consulate and was told "that documents are being prepared" and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz but was not seen after entering it.Saudi prince allegedly sought to lure Khashoggi
Saudi prince allegedly sought to lure Khashoggi
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, sought to lure missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.The Washington Post columnist has not been heard from since Oct. 2, when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.The Washington Post said there are U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.According to some friends of Khashoggi, over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to bin Salman had called Khashoggi to offer him protection and even a high-level job working for the government if he returned to his home country.The report said Khashoggi was "skeptical" over the offers and told one of his friends that the "Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him".Video: Footage shows Saudi journalist walking into consulate before disappearing"He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’" Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.A citizen of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi served as editor of multiple Saudi newspapers including Arab News and Al-Watan.During his residency in the U.S., he lived in northern Virginia and was a contributor to The Washington Post.The Washington Post said in the report that the intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi has raised questions about whether the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.Turkey identifies eight of 15 individuals linked with disappearance of Saudi journalist"Intelligence agencies have a ‘duty to warn’ people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to a directive signed in 2015. The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident," it added.A former senior intelligence official who did not want to be named told The Washington Post: "Capturing him, which could have been interpreted as arresting him, would not have triggered a duty-to-warn obligation.""If something in the reported intercept indicated that violence was planned, then, yes, he should have been warned," the official was quoted as saying.US was aware of plan by Saudi officials to capture Khashoggi: Washington PostThe Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the warning process, declined to comment on whether Khashoggi had been contacted, according to The Washington Post.Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi, while several countries -- particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK -- have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.According to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. After being told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.Khashoggi called the consulate and was told "that documents are being prepared" and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz but was not seen after entering it.Saudi officials ask Turkish authorities to defer consulate search for missing journalistUS ready to assist on missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi: PenceNo proof Khashoggi left Saudi consulate, says fiancée