PARIS (Reuters)-French law enforcement sources said French police arrested a member of the raid team suspected of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday as the man was about to board a flight from Paris. Flights to Riyadh.
Khashoggi’s fiancé welcomed the suspect’s detention and stated that he should be prosecuted for his role in the 2018 killings. However, the Saudi Embassy in Paris stated that the arrested “has nothing to do with the case involved.”
“Therefore, the Kingdom Embassy wants him to be released immediately,” it said in a statement.
A French police source and a judicial source named the man Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi-the same name as a former member of the Saudi Royal Guard on the US and UK sanctions lists. A report commissioned by the United Nations stated that he was involved. The killing of Khashoggi.
According to police sources, the police who detained him acted in accordance with the 2019 arrest warrant issued by Turkey, which is the country where Khashoggi was killed.
Khashoggi is a reporter for the Washington Post and a critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Turkish officials believed that his body was mutilated and removed. His remains have not been found.
A US intelligence report released in March this year stated that Prince Mohammed had approved the killing or arrest of Khashoggi. The Saudi government denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejected the report’s findings.
Last year, a Saudi court sentenced 8 people to 7 to 20 years in prison for this murder, but none of the defendants were named. The trial was criticized by a United Nations official and human rights activist who said that the murder planner was still at large.
“This may be a major breakthrough in seeking justice for Jamal Khashoggi,” said former UN investigator Agnes Karamad of the detention in Paris.
In her 2019 report for the United Nations, Karamad named Al-Otaibi as a member of the Saudi team that killed Khashoggi and mutilated his body before flying back to Saudi Arabia.
Caramar, the head of the human rights organization Amnesty International, said that more confirmation is needed to prove that the man detained in France is the same person she identified in the report.
According to police sources, the detained man is being held at the border police detention facility at Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris and will receive a hearing on his extradition to Turkey in a court in the city center on Wednesday morning.
Last weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron held face-to-face talks with Prince Mohammed in Saudi Arabia, becoming the first major Western leader to visit Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder.
It is not clear how or when Otaibi arrived in France.
The French Ministry of the Interior declined to comment. Turkish officials said they are waiting for the identity of the detained man.
A Saudi official told Reuters: “Media reports that a person involved in the crimes against Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi was arrested in France is untrue.”
“This is a case of wrong identity. The convicted person is currently serving his sentence in Saudi Arabia.”
Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz said on Twitter: “I welcome the arrest of a murderer of Jamal in France today.”
“France should try his crimes or extradite him to a country that can and is willing to really investigate and prosecute him and those who ordered the murder of Jamal,” Cengiz said.
The 2019 report prepared by Kalamad stated that after reporters went to the consulate to obtain documents allowing him to marry his fiancée, Al-Otaibi was a member of a 15-member Saudi team that participated in the killing of Khashoggi.
The report stated that Al-Otaibi was one of the five members of the group and that they were not in the consulate itself — the report stated that the killing took place at the consulate — but in the consul general’s residence.
A report from the Office of Financial Sanctions Enforcement in the United Kingdom stated that Al-Otaibi was “involved in concealing evidence after the murder in the Saudi consul general’s residence”. A report from the U.S. Department of the Treasury https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm547 listed Al-Otaibi as one of the people involved in the killing of Khashoggi.
(Reporting by Alain Acco and Tassilo Hummel; additional reporting by Geert De Clercq, John Irish, Tangi Salaun, Ghaida Ghantous; writing by Ingrid Melander and Christian Lowe; editing by Peter Cooney)