Saudi Arabia charged 11 men Thursday in the killing of Saudi reporter Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi diplomatic offices in Istanbul, Turkey, last month.
Saudi government lawyer Shalaan Bin Shalaan said officials will seek death sentences for five of the suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the crime.
Shalaan told reporters in Riyadh that Khashoggi's "presence abroad represented a threat to the Saudi kingdom."
He said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al Assiri formed a team to travel to Istanbul to try to persuade the reporter to return home.
Shalaan said Assiri chose a 15-member team, made up of three groups: a negotiating team, an intelligence team and a planning team. He says the head of the negotiating team knew Khashoggi and ordered the reporter be taken to a secure place. But, Shalaan said, Khashoggi was killed in the process.
He said Khashoggi fought with the team and was given a calming drug and tied up. The lawyer said five members of the team admitted to killing him, cutting up his body and removing the pieces from the building.
The government lawyer also suggested that a top advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had been barred from leaving Saudi Arabia. The advisor, Saud Qahtani, was removed as head of Bin Salman's communications team after Khashoggi's death.
Shalaan said that the crown prince "did not have knowledge about” the operation.
News media, including The New York Times, have reported about a sound recording of a discussion between the Saudi team and people in the kingdom on the day of the killing. The reports said the discussion included the message "to tell your boss." Some reports said that the “boss” spoken of is the crown prince. VOA has not heard the recording.
Hilal Kashan teaches political science at the American University of Beirut. Kashan told VOA that the official Saudi version is, in his words, "difficult to believe."
Khashoggi lived near Washington D.C. and wrote for the Washington Post newspaper. Thursday, the American government ordered its first punishment in connection with his killing. The Treasury Department ordered restrictions on 17 Saudis for their reported links to the act.
“These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.
The individuals Mnuchin noted include Saud Qahtani.
I’m Caty Weaver.
VOA News reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
brutally –adv. with extreme cruelty or harshness
reside –v. to live in a place
consequences –n. things that happen as a result of an action or condition