French police arrest man in connection with Khashoggi murder

BEIRUT, Lebanon – French police on Tuesday arrested a Saudi in connection with the assassination of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi, bu...


BEIRUT, Lebanon – French police on Tuesday arrested a Saudi in connection with the assassination of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi, but French authorities have warned that they are still verifying his identity.

A French judicial officer confirmed that the man, identified as Khalid Alotaibi, 33, had been arrested at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by Turkey, just before he boarded a flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A man by that name is accused of being a member of the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

The arrest could rekindle the international intrigue sparked by the murder at a time when Saudi Arabia and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, seek to abandon him and rebuild their international reputation.

A Saudi official, however, said the arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

“Media reports suggesting that a person implicated in the crime against Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi has been arrested in France is false,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under Saudi rules. “Those convicted of this crime are currently serving their sentences in Saudi Arabia. “

If the arrested man turns out to be the suspect, France could extradite him to Turkey to be charged there.

A Turkish trial of the suspects is progressing slowly, mainly because Saudi Arabia has refused to surrender one of the accused. If Mr. Alotaibi ends up in the dock in Turkey, he would be the first suspect to stand trial in person outside of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi court sentenced five men to death and three to prison terms for murder, but death sentences were replaced by prison terms after one of Mr. Khashoggi’s sons said he and his siblings pardoned the killers. But access to the trial was limited, the names of those convicted were never made public, and human rights groups called the process a sham.

It is not known whether Mr. Alotaibi was one of the convicts.

Mr Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi writer and journalist, was killed in October 2018 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain the papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.

Once inside, he was confronted by a team of Saudi agents who tried to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia, according to a report by a United Nations expert on the murder.

When he refused, they injected him with a sedative and suffocated him with a plastic bag. After her death, they used what Turkish security officials called a bone saw to dismember her body and dispose of it.

His remains have never been found.

The Central Intelligence Agency assessed after the murder that it was likely ordered by Prince Mohammed. In February, President Biden enabled the publication of an intelligence report who concluded that Prince Mohammed had approved the plan to capture or kill Mr. Khashoggi.

The Saudis called the murder a dishonest operation and Prince Mohammed denied ordering or knowing about it in advance.

Ben hubbard brought back from Beirut, and Aurelien Breeden from Paris. Carlotta Gall contributed to Istanbul reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: French police arrest man in connection with Khashoggi murder
French police arrest man in connection with Khashoggi murder
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