Jeffrey Epstein autopsy report shows broken neck: Washington Post

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS.

By Karen Freifeld and Rich McKay

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An autopsy of the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, found his neck had been broken in several places, the Washington Post reported late on Wednesday.

Such injuries can occur to people who hang themselves or who are strangled. The newspaper cited unidentified sources familiar with the autopsy’s results.

Epstein, a multi-millionaire and convicted sexual offender, was found dead in his jail cell in New York City on Saturday. The circumstances of his death are under investigation, and it was unclear when a report of the autopsy would be made public.

A representative of the New York Medical Examiner’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It was unclear if the medical examiner had made a final determination into how Epstein died. NBC News cited an unnamed source as saying Epstein’s body was claimed by an associate.

Dr. Zhongxue Hua, the Bergen County medical examiner in New Jersey, said a neck fracture was atypical in a suicide, but warned not to jump to conclusions.

“It’s unusual to have a neck fracture,” Hua said. “But the first question to address is when did it occur.”

If Epstein’s neck fracture was fresh, Hua said, then “at a minimum, it’s a very unusual suicide.”

Hua said he was familiar with Barbara Sampson, the chief New York medical examiner, and Michael Baden, a doctor who observed Epstein’s autopsy.

“The case is in two sets of top-notch hands,” he said. “Both have the highest integrity.”

Epstein, 66, who once counted Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was found unresponsive in his cell on Saturday morning, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

A source told Reuters previously that he was found hanging by the neck.

Epstein had pleaded not guilty in July to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutors said he recruited and paid girls to give him massages, which became sexual in nature.

Attorney General William Barr has said the criminal investigation into any possible co-conspirators would continue.

Barr, whose agency oversees the Bureau of Prisons, has also demanded an investigation into Epstein’s death and ordered the removal of the prison’s warden.

The disgraced financier had been on suicide watch at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan but was taken off prior to his death, according to a source who was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Epstein was alone in a cell when he was found hanging there.

At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, the source said.

Separately, a team at the jail on Wednesday began an “after-action” review, which is normally triggered by significant events such as a prominent inmate’s death, a person familiar with the matter said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Karen Freifeld in New York; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Darren Schuettler and John Stonestreet)

Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], the Chinese company put on a U.S. blacklist because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents.

The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported.

Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment, according to the Post.

The United States put Huawei on a blacklist in May, citing national security concerns. The move banned U.S. companies from selling most U.S. parts and components to Huawei without special licenses but President Donald Trump said last month American firms could resume sales in a bid to restart trade talks with Beijing.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment but said in a statement to the Washington Post it had “no business presence” in North Korea. It was not immediately possible to reach the Panda Group.

The Commerce Department, which also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has investigated possible links between Huawei and North Korea since 2016 but has not publicly connected the two, the Post said.

Huawei and Panda vacated their Pyongyang office in the first half of 2016, the newspaper reported.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Bill Trott)

Has ‘the sacrificial lamb’ arrived?: U.N. cites new recordings in Khashoggi murder

FILE PHOTO: Participants take photos next to a picture of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

RIYADH (Reuters) – Moments before Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered last October, two of his suspected murderers laying in wait at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate fretted about the task at hand, according to a U.N. report published on Wednesday.

Will it “be possible to put the trunk in a bag?” asked Maher Mutreb, a Saudi intelligence officer who worked for a senior advisor to Saudi crown prince, according to a report from the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

“No. Too heavy,” responded Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic doctor from the Interior Ministry who would dismember and dispose of the body. He expressed hope his task would “be easy”.

Tubaiqy continued: “Joints will be separated. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.”

Mutreb and 10 others are now standing trial in closed hearings in Saudi Arabia for their role in the crime.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, rejected the investigator’s report as “nothing new”.

He added in a tweet: “The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.”

The report, which calls for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials to be investigated over their liability for Khashoggi’s death, relies on recordings and forensic work conducted by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the consulate where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding.

TEXT MESSAGE

The report concludes that his murder was deliberate and premeditated. The CIA and some Western countries believe the crown prince ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Media reports have published the contents of some recordings obtained from inside the consulate, but the U.N. report discloses chilling new details.

At the end of the exchange with Tobaigy, Mutreb asks if “the sacrificial lamb” has arrived. At no point is Khashoggi’s name mentioned, but two minutes later he enters the building.

Khashoggi is ushered to the consul general’s office on the second floor where he meets Mutreb, whom he knew from when they worked together at the Saudi Embassy in London years earlier.

Mutreb tells Khashoggi to send his son a mobile text message.

“What should I say? See you soon? I can’t say kidnapping,” Khashoggi responds.

“Cut it short,” comes the reply. “Take off your jacket.”

“How could this happen in an embassy?” Khashoggi says. “I will not write anything.”

“Type it, Mr. Jamal. Hurry up. Help us so that we can help you because at the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don’t help us you know what will happen at the end; let this issue find a good end,” Mutreb says.

The report says the rest of the recordings contain sounds of movement, heavy panting and plastic sheets being wrapped, which Turkish intelligence concluded came after Khashoggi’s death as Saudi officials dismembered his body.

(Reporting By Stephen Kalin, Editing by William Maclean)

Saudi rights official dismisses Khashoggi inquiry as foreign interference

FILE PHOTO: Turkish police forensic experts and plainclothes police officers stand at the entrance of a villa in the Samanli village of the Termal district in the northwestern province of Yalova, Turkey, November 26, 2018, as police search inside in relation to the investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the state-backed Saudi human rights commission dismissed an international investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as interference on Thursday, and said everyone accused was already facing justice in the kingdom.

Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban made the comments as Turkey’s Justice Ministry said Interpol had issued red notices – asking police worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition – for 20 people regarding Khashoggi’s death.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, provoking an international outcry.

In his remarks, the first substantive comments on the case by Saudi Arabia at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Aiban said those on trial for what he described both as an “unfortunate accident” and a “heinous crime” had attended three hearings so far with their lawyers present. He gave no names or other details.

Three dozen Western countries, including all 28 European Union members, called on the kingdom last week to cooperate with a U.N.-led investigation.

But Aiban said Saudi Arabia would not accept what he termed as foreign interference in its domestic affairs and judicial system.

“Justice in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia operates pursuant to international law and it does so in all transparency,” Aiban told the Geneva forum during a review of Saudi Arabia’s rights record.

“We are indeed horrified by what has happened pursuant to this unfortunate accident and we have taken those measures required for us to resolve this heinous crime,” added Aiban, who headed the official Saudi delegation at the hearing.

The Turkish Justice Ministry said it had requested Interpol red notices for 18 people on Nov. 15 and for two more on Dec. 21 without identifying the individuals. The notices were issued on March 1, it said.

Interpol declined to comment.

Ankara has repeatedly pressed Riyadh to reveal more details of the killing. It said earlier on Thursday that Saudi authorities should disclose the names of defendants and the charges they face if it wanted to avoid questions over the “sincerity of judicial proceedings in the kingdom”.

It also criticized Aiban’s rejection of any foreign investigation. “We find it difficult to understand why an official working in the area of human rights would possibly be unsettled by efforts to shed light on all aspects of the Khashoggi murder,” the Turkish presidency said.

Riyadh has rejected accusations by the CIA and some Western countries that the crown prince ordered the killing.

After making numerous contradictory statements, it said Khashoggi was killed after negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed – and later that 11 Saudis had been indicted and referred for trial over the case, without identifying them.

The public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five of them.

The killing has severely strained ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, although Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has good ties with the Saudi monarch, King Salman.

(Reporting by Tom Miles, Stephanie Nebehay and Orhan Coskun, Ece Toksabay in Ankara; Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Andrew Heavens and Frances Kerry)

Teen in Lincoln Memorial protest sues Washington Post for $250 million

FILE PHOTO: Nicholas Sandmann, 16, a student from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American activist Nathan Phillips in Washington, U.S., in this still image from a January 18, 2019 video by Kaya Taitano. Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via REUTERS/File Photo

By Keith Coffman

(Reuters) – A high school student from Covington, Kentucky, sued the Washington Post for defamation on Tuesday, claiming the newspaper falsely accused him of racist acts and instigating a confrontation with a Native American activist in a January videotaped incident at the Lincoln Memorial.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann, 16, seeks $250 million in damages, the amount that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and the world’s richest person, paid for the Post in 2013.

The lawsuit claims that the newspaper “wrongfully targeted and bullied” the teen to advance its bias against President Donald Trump because Sandmann is a white Catholic who wore a Make America Great Again souvenir cap on a school field trip to the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18.

The Washington Post’s Vice President for Communications Kristine Coratti Kelly said: “We are reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”

In a photo that went viral from the incident, Sandmann is seen standing face to face with Native American activist Nathan Phillips. Sandmann stares smiling at him while Phillips sings and plays his drum.

The incident sparked outrage on social media.

FIRST OF MANY

In a statement, Sandmann’s Atlanta-based lawyer, Lin Wood, said additional similar lawsuits would be filed in the weeks ahead.

A private investigation firm retained by Covington Diocese in Park Hills, Kentucky, found in a report released last week no evidence the teenagers provoked a confrontation.

The students were met at the Lincoln Memorial by offensive statements from members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, the report said.

The investigation also determined that the students did not direct any racist or offensive comments toward Phillips although several performed a “tomahawk chop” to the beat of his drum.

Phillips claimed in a separate video that he heard the students chanting “build that wall,” during the encounter, a reference to Trump’s pledge to build a barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The investigators said they found no evidence of such a chant and that Phillips did not respond to multiple attempts to contact him.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in DenverWriting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman)

‘I can’t breathe’: Saudi journalist Khashoggi’s last words – CNN

FILE PHOTO: Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London, Britain, Sept. 29, 2018. Picture taken September 29, 2018. Middle East Monitor/Handout via REUTERS

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Journalist Jamal Khashoggi repeatedly told his killers “I can’t breathe” during his final moments in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, CNN reported on Monday.

Quoting a source who said they had read the full translated transcript of an audio recording, CNN said that Khashoggi recognized one of the men, General Maher Mutreb, who told him: “You are coming back”.

Khashoggi replied: “You can’t do that…people are waiting outside.”

His Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz waited for hours outside the consulate on Oct. 2 and, when he did not return, contacted Turkish authorities about his disappearance.

There was no further dialogue in the relatively short transcript, prepared by Turkish authorities, CNN’s source said.

As people set upon Khashoggi, he started fighting for air, repeating, “I can’t breathe” at least three times. The transcript then used singular words to describe the noises, including “scream”, “gasping”, “saw”, and “cutting”.

Turkish sources told Reuters a bone saw was used to dismember the journalist.

The transcript included no further mention of returning Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia and no indication that he had been drugged – as Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said in November.

One of the voices was identified in the transcript by Turkish authorities as Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies attached to the Saudi Ministry of Interior, CNN reported.

Tubaigy tells others to put in earphones or listen to music like him, the CNN source said.

Mutreb, a senior intelligence officer who is part of the security team of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, called officials and gave step-by-step details of the operation, CNN reported, finally saying: “Tell yours, the thing is done, it’s done”.

Turkish officials said last week that the Istanbul prosecutor’s office had concluded there was “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed, and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who served as deputy head of foreign intelligence, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s killing.

Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh later said Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

The kingdom has come under scrutiny as details of his killing came to light. Making some of their strongest accusations so far, both U.S. Republicans and Democrats said last week they want to pass legislation to send a message to Saudi Arabia that the United States condemns the death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.

A Turkish official said that by extraditing all suspects to Turkey, the Saudi authorities can address the international community’s concerns.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday ruled out their extradition. “We don’t extradite our citizens,” he said at a Gulf Arab summit in Riyadh.

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor’s office said is seeking the death penalty for five individuals, and that 11 of 21 suspects have been indicted and will be referred to court in Saudi Arabia.

(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Dominic Evans and Angus MacSwan)

Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty in Khashoggi murder case

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator wearing a mask of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a protest outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal//File Photo

By Stephen Kalin

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his office said on Thursday, as the kingdom tries to overcome its biggest political crisis in a generation.

Khashoggi, a royal insider turned critic of Saudi policy, was killed in the country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2, after a struggle, by a lethal injection dose, deputy public prosecutor and spokesman Shalaan al-Shalaan told reporters.

His body was dismembered, removed from the building and handed over to a “local cooperator”, whose identity has not been confirmed, he added. The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains are unknown.

Shalaan said the Washington Post columnist was murdered after “negotiations” for his return to the kingdom failed and that the killing was ordered by the head of a negotiating team sent to repatriate Khashoggi after he decided it was unfeasible to remove him from the consulate.

Shalaan said the order to repatriate Khashoggi had come from former deputy intelligence chief General Ahmed al-Asiri, who was sacked last month following an initial investigation.

Asked if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a role in the murder, he said: “He did not have any knowledge.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the order for the operation came from the highest level of Saudi leadership but probably not King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on his 33-year-old heir Prince Mohammed.

U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested ultimate responsibility lies with the prince as de facto ruler.

Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, then offered contradictory explanations including that he was killed in a rogue operation. The case has sparked a global outcry, opened the kingdom to possible sanctions and tarnished the image of Prince Mohammed.

Some details provided on Thursday again contradicted previous versions, none of which mentioned a drug-induced death and one of which called the killing premeditated based on information provided by Turkish authorities.

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

DEATH PENALTY

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the measures announced by the Saudi public prosecutor’s office were “positive but insufficient”, and repeated Ankara’s demand that the 15-man team be tried in Turkey.

“The Public Prosecutor has requested the death penalty for five individuals who are charged with ordering and committing the crime and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals,” Shalaan said, without naming them.

He said 11 out of 21 suspects have been indicted and will be referred to court, while investigations with the remaining suspects will continue to determine their role in the crime.

A travel ban has been imposed on a former top aide to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, while investigations continue over his role, Shalaan said.

He said Qahtani had coordinated with Asiri, meeting the operatives ahead of their journey to Istanbul to brief them on the journalist’s activities.

Qahtani has already been fired from the royal court, but four sources based in the Gulf told Reuters this week that he was still at liberty and continued to operate discreetly.

A senior government official previously identified the head of the negotiating team as Maher Mutreb, an aide to Qahtani who has appeared in photographs with Prince Mohammed on official visits this year to the United States and Europe.

Six weeks after the murder, Turkey is trying to keep up pressure on Prince Mohammed and has released a stream of evidence that undermined Riyadh’s early denials of involvement.

Turkey says it has recordings related to the killing which it has shared with Western allies. Erdogan said the recordings are “appalling” and shocked a Saudi intelligence officer who listened to them, Turkish media has reported.

Last month two intelligence sources said that Qahtani gave orders over Skype to Khashoggi’s killers. More recently, a government source familiar with the matter said Qahtani featured prominently throughout the recordings.

Shalaan declined to confirm or deny whether Saudi authorities heard the recordings. He said Riyadh asked Ankara to share witness testimonies and hand over Khashoggi’s phones.

(Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan and Asma Al Sharif in Dubai; Writing by Tuqa Khalid and Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Gareth Jones, William Maclean)

Turkey searches Saudi consulate again, European ministers cancel Riyadh trip

A Turkish police with a sniffer dog examines the backyard of Saudi Arabia's Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi's residence in Istanbul, Turkey October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

By Bulent Usta

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish investigators searched Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul for a second time overnight looking for clues into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and senior European ministers pulled out of an investment summit in Riyadh amid global concern over the incident.

The team left the consulate early on Thursday after searching the building and consular vehicles, a Reuters witness said. They used bright lights to illuminate the garden.

Earlier, they spent nearly nine hours in the Saudi consul’s residence along with Saudi investigators. The Turkish search, which used a drone, included the roof and garage.

Turkish officials say they believe Khashoggi – a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist who was a strong critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – was murdered at the consulate on Oct. 2 and his body chopped up and removed.

He had gone to the consulate seeking documents for an upcoming marriage and has not been seen since. Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in the disappearance.

The incident has caused a global outcry but also poses a dilemma for the United States and other Western nations, which have lucrative business dealings with the authoritarian kingdom and count on it as a leading Middle East ally and opponent of their common enemy Iran.

It also wields huge influence as the world’s top oil exporter.

How Western allies deal with Riyadh will hinge on the extent to which they believe responsibility for Khashoggi’s disappearance lies with Prince Mohammed and the Saudi authorities.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not want to abandon Saudi Arabia and needed to see evidence of any role by Riyadh. He was waiting to hear back from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met Saudi and Turkish leaders on a mission to the region this week.

Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old prince in an effort to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East, has speculated without providing evidence that “rogue killers” could be responsible.

DESERT STORM

European governments have expressed concern about Khashoggi’s disappearance but face a similarly delicate situation.

However, three senior ministers said they were pulling out of a high-profile investment conference in Riyadh later this month, joining a list of international officials and business executives to boycott the event.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire cited concerns about Khashoggi. British trade minister Liam Fox followed suit, with his spokesman saying: “Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.”

Dutch Finance Minister Wopka Hoekstra also scrapped plans to attend while the Dutch government cancelled a trade mission to Saudi Arabia next month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his plans to attend would be revisited on Thursday after U.S. officials consult Pompeo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meanwhile said Moscow did not have enough information about Khashoggi’s disappearance to justify harming ties with Riyadh. His government would wait for details, he told a forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly convinced of Prince Mohammed’s culpability in Khashoggi’s killing but have not yet been able to collect direct evidence. Saudi authorities did not immediately comment on the report.

Turkish sources have said the authorities have an audio recording indicating Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper published on Wednesday what it said were details from audio recordings that purported to document Khashoggi’s torture and interrogation.

Khashoggi’s torturers severed his fingers during the interrogation and later beheaded and dismembered him, it said.

Reuters has been unable to confirm the report with Turkish officials.

Turkey has not shared with the U.S. government or European allies audio or video evidence, seven U.S. and European security officials have told Reuters.

The United States and its allies have collected some intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the sources said.

FREE REIN

Turkish pro-government newspaper Sabah reported last week that investigators had identified a 15-member Saudi intelligence team that arrived in Istanbul on diplomatic passports hours before Khashoggi disappeared.

Prince Mohammed has painted himself as the face of a new, vibrant Saudi Arabia, diversifying its economy away from reliance on oil and making some social changes.

But he has faced criticism including over the arrest of women activists, a diplomatic row with Canada and Riyadh’s involvement in the Yemen war during which air strikes by the coalition Saudi Arabia leads have killed thousands of civilians.

Khashoggi, a royal insider who once advised former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, has never shied away from criticising Saudi policies.

The Washington Post published a column it received from his assistant after he went missing in which Khashoggi condemns the crackdown on journalists by Arab governments and the failure of the international community to respond.

“As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate,” he wrote.

(Additional reporting by Umit Ozdal, Yesim Dikmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Istanbul, John Irish and Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam, Alistair Smout and Kylie MacLellan in London; Writing by Daren Butler and Stephen Kalin; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Trump says U.S. working with Turkey, Saudis on journalist probe

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its probe over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday, adding that they are also working with Saudi Arabia.

Trump, in an interview with the Fox News “Fox & Friends” program, also called U.S.-Saudi relations “excellent.” Asked if U.S.-Saudi ties were in jeopardy in light of the Khashoggi matter, Trump did not give a direct answer, saying, “I have to find out what happened … and we’re probably getting closer than you might think.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who had lived in Washington for the past year, has not been heard from or seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than one week ago. He left Saudi Arabia last year saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Riyadh over the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent, and since then wrote columns for the Washington Post.

Trump on Thursday said: “We’re being very tough. And we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey, and frankly, we’re working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened.”

“We’re looking at it very, very seriously. I don’t like it at all,” he added.

Asked about a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence had intercepted top Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi, Trump told Fox, “It would be a very sad thing.”

“We will probably know in the very short future. We have some incredible people and some incredible talent working on it. We don’t like it. I don’t like it. No good,” he added.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham)

Turkey says will search consulate where Saudi journalist vanished

A still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by TRT World claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as he arrives at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey Oct. 2, 2018. Reuters TV/via REUTERS.

By Ece Toksabay and Daren Butler

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey said on Tuesday it would search Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished last week, and close ally Britain called on Riyadh to provide “urgent answers” over his disappearance.

Khashoggi was last seen one week ago entering the consulate in Istanbul to get documents related to his forthcoming marriage. His fiancee, waiting outside, said he never emerged and Turkish sources said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan asked Saudi Arabia on Monday to prove its assertion that Khashoggi left the consulate, while Washington urged the kingdom to support an investigation.

Saudi Arabia has dismissed as baseless accusations that it killed or abducted Khashoggi, and on Tuesday Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu agency said Riyadh had invited Turkish experts and other officials to visit the consulate.

Britain urged the Saudi government to explain what happened. “Just met the Saudi ambassador to seek urgent answers over Jamal Khashoggi,” foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter.

“Violence against journalists worldwide is going up and is a grave threat to freedom of expression. If media reports prove correct, we will treat the incident seriously – friendships depend on shared values,” he wrote.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the investigation was “continuing intensively”. The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations allowed for consulates to be searched by authorities of a host country with consent of the mission chief, he said.

“The consulate building will be searched in the framework of the investigation,” Aksoy said in a written statement.

There was no immediate comment on the report from the Saudi authorities.

Khashoggi left his country last year saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy over the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent, and since then wrote columns for the Washington Post. His disappearance sparked global concern.

“FORCED DISAPPEARANCE”

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he had not yet spoken to Saudi officials about the case. Speaking at the White House, he said he did not know anything about Khashoggi’s disappearance and that he would speak with Saudi officials at some point.

The United Nations human rights office urged both Turkey and Saudi Arabia to investigate what it called the “apparent enforced disappearance” and possible murder of Khashoggi.

“We call for cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and to make the findings public,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing.

The two countries have such an obligation under both criminal law and international human rights law, she said.

In July, the U.N. human rights office called on Saudi Arabia to release all peaceful activists, including women held for campaigning against a ban on driving as it was being lifted.

Khashoggi was once a Saudi newspaper editor and is a familiar face on political talk shows on Arab satellite television networks. He used to advise Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States and Britain.

Human rights activists hold pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Human rights activists hold pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

His disappearance is likely to further deepen divisions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar last year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

The two Turkish sources told Reuters on Saturday that Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was deliberately killed inside the consulate, a view echoed by one of Erdogan’s advisers, Yasin Aktay, who is a friend of the Saudi journalist.

Erdogan told reporters on Sunday that authorities were examining camera footage and airport records as part of their investigation. He has also said Turkey has no documents or evidence regarding the case.

The European Union fully supports U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called on Riyadh to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance, EU policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

(Additional reporting by Sarah Dadouch in Istanbul, Andrew MacAskill in London and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Writing by Dominic Evans, Editing by William Maclean)