In a frame from surveillance camera footage taken Oct. 2, 2018, and published Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, by the pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah, a man identified by Turkish officials as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, walks toward the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul before writer Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. (Sabah via AP)

Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had obtained audio recordings of the alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

President Donald Trump has acknowledged it “certainly looks” as though missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, and he threatened “very severe” consequences if the Saudis are found to have murdered him. His warning came as the administration toughened its response to a disappearance that has sparked global outrage.

Before Trump spoke Thursday, the administration announced that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had pulled out of a major upcoming Saudi investment conference and a U.S. official said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned the Saudi crown prince that his credibility as a future leader is at stake.

Pompeo said the Saudis should be given a few more days to finish and make public a credible investigation before the U.S. decides “how or if” to respond. Trump’s comments, however, signalled an urgency in completing the probe into the disappearance of the journalist, last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

The messaging underscored the administration’s concern about the effect the case could have on relations with a close and valuable strategic partner. Increasingly upset U.S. lawmakers are condemning the Saudis and questioning the seriousness with which Trump and his top aides are taking the matter, while Trump has emphasized the billions of dollars in weapons the Saudis purchase from the United States.

Turkish reports say Khashoggi, who had written columns critical of the Saudi government for The Washington Post over the past year while he lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S., was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by members of an assassination squad with ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudis have dismissed those reports as baseless but have yet to explain what happened to the writer.

Trump, who has insisted that more facts must be known before making assumptions, did not say on what he based his latest statement about the writer’s likely demise.

Asked if Khashoggi was dead, he said, “It certainly looks that way. … Very sad.”

Related: Man linked to Saudi prince at consulate when writer vanished

Related: Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Asked what consequence Saudi leaders would face if they are found to be responsible, he replied: “It will have to be very severe. It’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens.”

Vice-President Mike Pence said earlier in Colorado that “the world deserves answers” about what happened to Khashoggi, “and those who are responsible need to be held to account.”

In Istanbul, a leaked surveillance photo showed a man who has been a member of the crown prince’s entourage during trips abroad walking into the Saudi Consulate just before Khashoggi vanished there — timing that drew the kingdom’s heir-apparent closer to the columnist’s apparent demise.

Turkish officials say Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb flew into Istanbul on a private jet along with an “autopsy expert” Oct. 2 and left that night.

In Washington, Pompeo, who was just back from talks with Saudi and Turkish leaders, said of the investigations in Istanbul:

“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so that we, too, have a complete understanding of the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make decisions about how, or if, the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Mr. Khashoggi.”

Although Pompeo suggested the U.S. could wait longer for results, an official familiar with his meetings in Riyadh and Ankara said the secretary had been blunt about the need to wrap the probe up quickly.

The official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the private meetings and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pompeo told the crown prince that “time is short.” The official added Pompeo had warned him that it would be “very difficult for you to be a credible king” without a credible investigation. The prince is next in line for the throne held by his aged father King Salman.

Shortly after Trump and Pompeo met at the White House, Mnuchin announced that after consulting the president and his top diplomat “I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudis had hoped to use the forum, billed as “Davos in the Desert,” to boost their global image. But a number of European finance ministers and many top business executives have pulled out as international pressure on Riyadh has intensified over Khashoggi.

Pompeo said that whatever response the administration might decide on would take into account the importance of the long-standing U.S.-Saudi partnership. He said, “They’re an important strategic ally of the United States, and we need to be mindful of that.”

Matthew Lee And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives to speak with reporters about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Just Posted

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Highest earning staff at Fraser-Cascade School District made public

Also board looks into seat belts on school buses, Marv Cope gets road in his memory

Agassiz teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

AESS students say they had the experience of a life time

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants couldn’t find the net: coach

Even with a six-on-three advantage, the Langley-based hockey team couldn’t earn points Sunday.

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

UPDATE: Hells Angels on scene after body found in Maple Ridge

Body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge

Mountie left with ‘significant’ injuries after driver attempts to flee traffic stop

Richmond RCMP are looking for a dark coloured Mercedes Benz

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Most Read