Published On: Sat, Oct 13th, 2018

Trump vows punishment if Saudi Arabia is behind missing journalist

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President Donald Trump has vowed ‘severe punishment’ for Saudi Arabia if the kingdom is found to be responsible for a journalist who went missing at its consulate.

In a forthcoming interview with 60 Minutes, an excerpt of which was published on Saturday, Trump spoke about the October 2 disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. 

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and fierce critic of the crown, was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey to deal with a paperwork matter. 

‘As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes,’ Trump said of Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

Trump spoke with 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl for a forthcoming interview set to air on Sunday

Trump spoke with 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl for a forthcoming interview set to air on Sunday

Trump spoke with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl for a forthcoming interview set to air on Sunday

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is seen in a 2014 file photo. He as last seen entering the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is seen in a 2014 file photo. He as last seen entering the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is seen in a 2014 file photo. He as last seen entering the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2

‘They deny it in every way you can imagine,’ he continued. ‘In the not too distant future I think we will know an answer.’

Trump said that potential sanctions would have to be carefully considered due to potential impacts on US jobs, mentioning a massive 2017 Saudi order for $110 billion worth of US military equipment.

Senators from both parties have called for the deal to be reviewed or cancelled in light of alleged Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

‘I’ll tell you what I don’t want to do,’ Trump said, ‘I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that. And you know what, there are other ways of punishing.’ 

‘There’s a lot at stake,’ Mr. Trump continued, ‘And, maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There’s something, you’ll be surprised to hear me say that, there’s something really terrible and disgusting about that if that was the case.’  

‘We’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment,’ he added.

Khashoggi, 59, was last seen on surveillance video entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get marriage paperwork as his fiancee waited outside, and was never seen leaving.

Despite there being a number of visible CCTV cameras - ringed in red - Saudi Arabia claims none of them worked on the day in question and that Khashoggi left without being filmed

Despite there being a number of visible CCTV cameras - ringed in red - Saudi Arabia claims none of them worked on the day in question and that Khashoggi left without being filmed

Despite there being a number of visible CCTV cameras – ringed in red – Saudi Arabia claims none of them worked on the day in question and that Khashoggi left without being filmed

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi (right) arrives at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2 in the last known footage before he disappeared

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi (right) arrives at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2 in the last known footage before he disappeared

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi (right) arrives at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2 in the last known footage before he disappeared

On Friday, Turkish newspaper Sabah claimed that Khashoggi may have recorded his own torture and death inside the consulate on his Apple Watch

He turned on the device’s recording function before entering and his ‘interrogation, torture and killing were audio recorded and sent to both his phone and to iCloud’, the newspaper claimed.

Security forces leading the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance found the audio file on the phone he had left with his fiancée, according to the paper. 

Fiancée Hatice Cengiz, 36, waited outside the embassy for him for hours, but he never emerged. 

Hatice Cengiz, 36, who waited outside for hours for her fiance Khashoggi to return, has spoken of being left in a 'state of deep confusion and sadness'

Hatice Cengiz, 36, who waited outside for hours for her fiance Khashoggi to return, has spoken of being left in a 'state of deep confusion and sadness'

Hatice Cengiz, 36, who waited outside for hours for her fiance Khashoggi to return, has spoken of being left in a ‘state of deep confusion and sadness’

That account supports another report from the Washington Post, which said that conversations between those involved in Khashoggi’s alleged assassination were recorded at the consulate – but it was not clear from that report how these recordings had been made or later found.

An insider told the newspaper: ‘The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered. 

‘You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic … You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.’

The Post has cited sources saying that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, dismembered, and the body ferried out in pieces in cars with diplomatic plates.

The Saudi Arabian government has strenuously denied claims that it was involved in Khashoggi death, calling them ‘lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom.’

Riyadh faces a chorus of international calls to shed light on what happened to the Washington Post columnist, and business leaders have already shunned the regime. 

Billionaire mogul Richard Branson suspended talks with the kingdom over a proposed $1 billion investment in Virgin Galactic.

TIMELINE: WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN MR KHASHOGGI’S DISAPPEARANCE

OCTOBER 2

03:28: Gulf Stream IV private jet carrying suspected Saudi agents arrives at Istanbul airport.

05:05: The group checking into two hotels nearby to the Saudi consulate building.

12:13: Several diplomatic vehicles are filmed arriving at the consulate, allegedly carrying some of the Saudi agents.

13:06: Jamal Khashoggi is last seen on WhatsApp. He then hands his mobile to his fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

13:14: Khashoggi enters the consulate building.

13.24: A message is delivered to Khashoggi’s WhatsApp – but it is never read.

15:08: Vehicles leave the consulate and are filmed arriving at the nearby Saudi consul’s residence.

17:15: A second private jet carrying a number of suspected Saudi officials lands in Istanbul.

17:33: Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, is seen on CCTV waiting outside the consulate.

18:20: One of the private jets departs from Istanbul airport.

21:00: The final plane leaves Istanbul.

OCTOBER 3

The Washington Post, for whom Khashoggi writes opinion pieces, raises the alarm, saying Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the consulate.

OCTOBER 4

After an initial period of silence, Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi had disappeared ‘after he left the consulate building’.

*All times in Istanbul time.

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