Saudi Arabia CRISIS: Turkey demands Khashoggi suspects' extradition as new warrants issued

Defence Secretary James Mattis

Defence Secretary James Mattis

USA senators said on Thursday they expect to vote next week on efforts to make clear to Saudi Arabia there is a strong concern in Washington about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey, despite President Donald Trump's calls for continued close ties to Riyadh.

Khashoggi, a United States resident since 2017, was killed during his visit to the consulate to obtain marriage-related paperwork on October 2.

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"We haven't heard back from the Saudis about the whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi's remains, the identity of the local collaborator, or who ordered the hit on the Washington Post columnist".

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who supported the resolution, said last week that the Trump administration's weak response to Khashoggi's murder had damaged the nation's credibility overseas.

Turkey has been looking to extradite 18 suspects which include 15 of the alleged assassination group. The move would punish both the president and the Crown Prince for their roles in killing or covering up the journalist's murder.

Now senators who believe even more strongly that Mohammed helped coordinate Khashoggi's killing will explore legislative options to punish Saudi Arabia, including bills or amendments that could withdraw USA support of Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, impose additional sanctions, or end weapons sales to the country.

The senators said Haspel's briefing contradicted information from Trump, as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is the leading sponsor of the measure.

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The CIA, meanwhile, is facing growing pressure to brief the full Senate, since Tuesday's briefing comprised only roughly a dozen senators from the party leadership and who sit on key committees. However, Trump said Central Intelligence Agency did not have any definitive answer on whether the crown prince had been aware of the murder.

Saudi Arabia has detained 21 people and seeking the death penalty for five.

Graham had said that "there's a smoking saw" implicating MBS, adding that anyone who would deny his involvement at this point is "willfully blind".

"The prosecution's move to issue arrest warrants for Asiri and Qahtani reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won't take formal action against those individuals", Reuters quoted one Turkish official as saying on December 5.

The CIA has concluded Mohammed bin Salman "probably ordered" the killing of Khashoggi.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Post reported that Khalid told Khashoggi "that he should go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so".

Graham said that President Trump has worked to create a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, and he "clearly" isn't being respected.

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