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U.S. sanctions 17 Saudis over killing of journalist Khashoggi

U.S. sanctions 17 Saudis over killing of journalist Khashoggi

Khashoggi died after being drugged and then dismembered, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office said in the first Saudi confirmation of how he was killed.

They included Saud al-Qahtani, a former adviser to the crown prince who the treasury department alleged was "part of the planning and execution of the operation" that led to Khashoggi's murder; Maher Mutreb, who it said had "co-ordinated and executed" the operation; and Mohammed Alotaibi, the Istanbul consul-general.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor has concluded that an intelligence officer ordered Jamal Khashoggi's murder, and not Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The New York Times has reported that in the newly surfaced audio recording, a member of the team is heard telling a superior to "tell your boss" that the mission had been completed-and that boss, according to the New York Times, is believed by US intelligent officials to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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 the journalist from the consulate.

Khashoggi's killing last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul further strained relations with Canada and renewed public outrage over Ottawa's $15-billion arms deal with the regime. Also named is Maher Mutreb, who was part of the crown prince's entourage on trips overseas.

In a subsequent statement, Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said that investigations had revealed that the issue began on September 29, when "an order was issued to bring the victim back [to Saudi Arabia] by means of persuasion, and - if persuasion fails - to do so by force".

Saudi Arabia said 21 people are now in custody, with 11 indicted and referred to trial.

Erdogan has said Turkey also played the recordings to Saudi officials, something Shalaan declined to confirm or deny.

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The prosecutor, Shaalan al-Shaalan, also said that the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body remained unknown. King Salman seems unprepared to boot his favorite son from the role of crown prince, perhaps an indication of just how well MbS has consolidated power within the royal family.

Turkey says it has recordings related to the killing which it has shared with Western allies.

"Those who gave the command as well as instigators should also be clarified and this process should not be covered up", Mr Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey would "shed light on this murder in all its aspects". Prosecutors said this specialist was working without the direct knowledge of his boss.

Among the high-level officials incriminated in connection with the killing is former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who was sacked in the immediate aftermath of the killing.

Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Prosecutors say the men formed a 15-man Saudi team to carry out the operation.

"The politicisation of the issue contributes to a fissure in the Islamic world while the kingdom seeks the unity of the Islamic world", the foreign minister said. Turkish officials told MEE last month that Tubaigy was tasked with cutting up Khashoggi's body.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the administration's point man on the Khashoggi matter, said in a statement that "at the time of the killing" the sanctioned individuals "occupied positions in the Royal Court and several ministries and offices of the Government of Saudi Arabia".

An English journalist and television presenter, Piers Morgan, tweeted: "So the crown prince who ordered the murder is now going to kill five people who carried out his order?"