Trump says spoke to Saudis at 'highest level' over Khashoggi

Trump says spoke to Saudis at 'highest level' over Khashoggi
US President Donald Trump said he has spoken to Saudi leaders about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.
2 min read
10 October, 2018
Trump said he has spoken to Saudi Arabia on Khashoggi's disappearance [Getty]

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he spoke with the Saudi leadership "at the highest level" regarding the fate of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he talked with the kingdom's leaders "more than once" since Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post contributor, disappeared on Tuesday after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"This is a bad situation," Trump said, after largely avoding the subject, but has come under pressure from leading Republicans such as Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham to speak out.

"We're demanding everything. We want to see what's going on there," he said.

Although Turkish and US officials have been largely tight-lipped on the subject in open, information has been leaked out to journalists from both sides.

On Wednesday, Reuters revealed that Khashoggi was wearing a black Apple watch and left his two mobile phones with his fiancee outside the Saudi consulate before he entered.

These objects are now at the heart of Turkey's investigation into his possible murder.

"We have determined that it was on him when he walked into the consulate," a security official told Reuters.

An Apple Watch can provide location data as well as heart rate. Other information can be relayed depending on whether it was synchronised to an iPhone.

On Tuesday, the New York Times published an explosive story that Saudi Arabia's top leadership ordered the assassinaton of Khashoggi.

The Saudi journalist and dissident, who has penned articles critical of some of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies in the Arab and Western press, vanished a week ago.

Camera footage outside the consulate shows Khashoggi entering but not leaving the premises. Saudi Arabia claimed the CCTV cameras were not working on Tuesday, to explain their inability to provide video evidence that Khashoggi left the consular building.

At the same time, 15 suspected Saudi operatives who visited Istanbul on the day Khashoggi vanished and left that same day appear to have taken the consulate's CCTV footage with them when they returned to Saudi Arabia.

One of the men is reportedly a forensics expert, while others are part of the military or had close links to Saudi Arabia's ruling inner-circle.

Tuesday's Times' article said Khashoggi's body was dismembered with a "bone saw" brought over from Saudi Arabia for that purpose. 

Separately, Wednesday's Reuters investigation reported that a Saudi source said British intelligence believed that an attempt to drug Khashoggi culminated in an overdose.

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