Saudis fire Istanbul consul over Jamal Khashoggi disappearance

Steven Mnuchin

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The Washington Post columnist, a strong critic of the Saudi leadership, was last seen alive entering the consulate on October 2.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is in Turkey for talks following a meeting with the Saudi king and the crown prince on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump earlier Monday said he had spoken with Saudi Arabia's King Salman who strongly denied the kingdom's involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.

In the original passport scans obtained by NBC News, the photos of the seven men's faces can be seen along with their names, dates of birth and passport numbers.

The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi plans, reported the crown prince had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. The daily reported that in another tape, an unknown individual tells Otaibi: "If you want to live when you come to Saudi Arabia, be quiet!" His departure came hours before his home was expected to be searched in relation to the journalist's disappearance. "The Saudis claimed that the consul's family was inside", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

17 that Saudi Arabia Consul Mohammad Utaybi's voice could be heard in one of the recordings of Khashoggi's "interrogation".

Otaibi returned to Riyadh on Tuesday ahead of a planned search of his residence as part of the official Turkish probe into Khashoggi's disappearance.

"What we have right now is Mike Pompeo, who's terrific, who's doing a great job, Secretary of State, is with the King right now and the Crown Prince literally as we speak and we're trying to find out what went on", Trump answered.

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The Saudis will likely claim the alleged murder was carried out "without clearance and transparency" and that the "hit squad" of 15 Saudi assassins will be punished, the sources said.

While Pompeo said the Saudis would conduct a "thorough" investigation and hold any guilty parties completely accountable, he flat out shut down any conversation of the facts of the case.

Meanwhile Turkish officials are widening their investigation after searching the consulate on Monday.

At least a dozen officials arrived in unmarked police cars at 6pm local time and mingled outside the building before filing inside. Mr. Trump has taken a wait-and-see approach to the journalist's disappearance, while emphasizing that the Saudis deny they had anything to do with the situation and the importance of the U.S. -Saudi relationship.

He added: "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Turkish officials, on the other hand, have been releasing evidence and brutal recordings of Khashoggi being beaten, drugged, murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish diplomatic sources had said the consulate would be searched by a joint Turkish-Saudi team.

Members of the US Congress, including some of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans, are among the loudest voices in the US demanding answers and action on Mr Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing retribution for his critical views on the Saudi leadership. "You should do [that] too", Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.

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