US Won’t Prejudge Result of Khashoggi Probe

Ivan Pentchoukov

The White House will not prejudge the outcome of the official investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, and stands ready to aid in the probe, according to a Trump administration official.

The king, crown prince, and foreign minister of Saudi Arabia agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 16 about the need for a prompt and comprehensive investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Pompeo met with the Saudi officials on Oct. 16 after being dispatched to Riyadh by President Donald Trump, with instructions to find out firsthand what happened.

“It is absolutely essential that Turkish authorities, with full and transparent support from the government of Saudi Arabia, are able to conduct a thorough investigation and officially release the results of that investigation when concluded,” a Trump administration official told The Epoch Times.

“We support Turkish investigators’ efforts and are not going to prejudge the outcome of the official investigation. We stand ready to assist.”

Khashoggi was allegedly last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Since then, media outlets have cited unidentified sources to allege that Khashoggi was murdered at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Epoch Times couldn’t independently verify the anonymous claims; Saudi Arabia denies the allegations.

“The Secretary and the Crown Prince agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
In a phone call with Trump, the crown prince “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the call, and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.”

Pompeo was scheduled to travel to Ankara on Oct. 17 to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and offer help in the Khashoggi investigation, according to the State Department.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have an extended, bitter rivalry. The White House has so far refrained from accepting either side’s claims.

One of the only named sources in the media’s claims about the crown prince’s involvement is Khaled Saffuri, an associate of Abdurahman Alamoudi, who is serving a 17-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison for plotting to kill another Saudi crown prince.

Ahead of Pompeo’s arrival—and for the first time since Khashoggi’s disappearance—Turkish forensic experts searched the premises of the consulate for more than nine hours overnight between Oct. 15 and 16. The investigators took away soil samples and a metal door from the garden.

The search yielded no conclusive evidence that Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, according to a Turkish security official.

“However, there are some findings and they are being worked on,” he said, adding that painting may have damaged some evidence. “These can’t be fully erased after all, so the teams will continue to work on this.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also claimed that parts of the consulate had been repainted since Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Investigators have expanded their search to the residence of the Saudi consul and consulate vehicles, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“The investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” Erdogan told reporters.

Trump has threatened punishment if it turned out that Khashoggi was killed, but has so far ruled out canceling arms deals with the oil-rich nation. Saudi Arabia said it would retaliate against any pressure or sanctions. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, a significant buyer of Western arms, and a key Washington ally against Iran.

U.N. human-rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Oct. 16 called on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to reveal everything known about Khashoggi’s disappearance. She also said Riyadh should waive immunity on its diplomatic premises and officials.

While no hard evidence has been presented to confirm Khashoggi was killed, a host of world business leaders have pulled out of a major investment summit in Saudi Arabia. London Stock Exchange Chief Executive David Schwimmer joined the list on Oct. 16, as did the CEOs of HSBC, Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse, and BNP Paribas.

While most of the bankers withdrew without linking their actions to the controversy over Khashoggi’s fate, sources at some of the banks privately made clear they were concerned about potential fallout from being linked with the event.

The City of London Corporation, which governs the capital’s financial district, said its Policy and Resources Chairman Catherine McGuinness would no longer attend.

The U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship improved significantly after Trump took office. The president directed his first foreign visit to Riyadh, bringing nearly all members of his new administration with him. Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reported to have a close relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and a columnist for the Washington Post, reportedly joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1970. He advocated for the Muslim Brotherhood as recently as this summer in a column for The Washington Post. Canada, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, among other nations, consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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Ivan is the national editor of The Epoch Times. He has reported for The Epoch Times on a variety of topics since 2011.
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