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)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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)

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

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Students from Cedar Hill Middle School play and hold a sign to protest proposed music cuts to school band programs in the Greater Victoria School District, during a Monday event. The district is facing a massive deficit and is considering a number of options for cutting costs. (Photo courtesy Laura Alcaraz-Sehn)
Massive student demonstration planned to protest Greater Victoria school band cuts

Band students from 15 SD61 schools will be at major intersections Thursday after school

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 exposure at Pacific Christian Elementary School on April 12. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Saanich elementary school

Pacific Christian Elementary School experienced exposure on April 12

A man accused of choking a 15-year-old in his tent in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night has been arrested by Victoria police. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man accused of choking, sexually exploiting 15-year-old in Victoria tent arrested

Police arrested the 38-year-old in Beacon Hill Park Wednesday afternoon

Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
East Sooke artisan strikes a chord with custom guitars

Guitars include wood from Hendrix childhood home in Seattle

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Most Read