Britain, France, Germany join Canada in saying Saudi version of Khashoggi’s death not ‘credible’
Saudi Arabia needs to provide facts to back up its explanation of what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi for it to be considered credible, Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement on Sunday.
That echoes a theme espoused by Canada one day earlier but is far stronger than anything the U.S. government under Donald Trump has been willing to say so far.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement Saturday night that the Saudis’ “explanations” of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi “lack consistency and credibility.”
She also reiterated the federal government’s call for a thorough investigation in collaboration with Turkish officials.
After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said the journalist died in a fistfight at the consulate. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.
Britain, France and Germany said Sunday in their joint statement: “Nothing can justify this killing and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
“There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened ... beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.”
The countries stressed that more effort was needed and expected to establish the truth and ensure proper accountability for any crimes committed.
In her statement on Saturday, Freeland expressed sincere condolences to Khashoggi’s family and loved ones.
“The pain they are enduring as a result of this tragedy is heartbreaking,” she said, adding “Those responsible for the killing must be held to account and must face justice.”
Trump has not been willing to go that far yet but he’s beginning to face growing pressure from within his Republican party.
Trump’s comments about the Khashoggi incident in recent days have ranged from threatening Saudi Arabia with “very severe” consequences and warning of economic sanctions, to more conciliatory remarks in which he has played up the country’s role as a U.S. ally against Iran and Islamist militants, as well as a major purchaser of U.S. arms.
“I am not satisfied until we find the answer. But it was a big first step, it was a good first step. But I want to get to the answer,” Trump told reporters this weekend, when asked about the Saudi investigation and the subsequent firing of Saudi officials over the incident.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump said that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”
GOP Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, went farther on Saturday, saying that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince “crossed a line” in the killing of Khashoggi and must pay a price.
Corker said on CNN’s State of the Union that he believed Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi royal known as MBS, was behind the killing of Khashoggi, who vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Pro-government media in Turkey have reported that a hit squad travelled from Saudi Arabia to kill the Saudi critic.
"There has to be a punishment and a price paid for that,” Corker said on CNN. He also urged Turkey to turn over purported recordings of Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The existence of such evidence has been reported in Turkish media in a series of leaks, though Turkish officials have yet to confirm they have recordings.
Sen. Ben Sasse, also a Republican, told CNN: “The Saudis have got a lot of explaining to do. I think everything should be on the table.”
With files from The Associated Press