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Khashoggi murder: Son arrives in US from Saudi Arabia

Salah Khashoggi had been under travel ban imposed on him by kingdom to pressure his father
King Salman and Mohammed Bin Salman greet family of Jamal Khashoggi (SPA)

The son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia after having earlier been prevented from leaving the country by a travel ban.

Salah Khashoggi and his family arrived in Washington on Thursday on a flight from Saudi Arabia, according to two sources close to the family, the Reuters news agency reported.

He and his family joined his mother and his three siblings in the US capital, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Several hours after their arrival, a deputy spokesman for the US State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Saudi leaders in Riyadh earlier this month that "he wanted Salah Khashoggi returned to the United States".

"We are pleased that is the case," spokesman Robert Palladino said.

Khashoggi, a dual US-Saudi citizen, had his passport restricted by the kingdom earlier this year.

Salah is the eldest son of Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by a Saudi hit squad after entering his country's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

On Tuesday, Salah Khashoggi was pictured shaking hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who is widely suspected of having organised the killing of his father - during a meeting between the Khashoggi family and the Saudi royal family, including King Salman.

According to official Saudi news agency SPA, the king and crown prince “offered their deepest condolences” to the family of the assassinated journalist, while Sahl, the journalist's brother, and Salah Khashoggi “expressed their utmost thanks” to the royal family for their condolences.

Still, a Saudi human rights activist and close friend of the late Khashoggi, Yahya Assiri, told Middle East Eye that the visit was “a serious assault on the family” of the murdered journalist, particularly as authorities had barred them from travelling.

“Jamal told me that his wife was forced to divorce him after she was banned indefinitely from travel,” Assiri said. He said Khashoggi had also told him that Saudi authorities barred his entire family from travel in an attempt to pressure him to return.

'Where is the body?'

Assiri said the visit most likely took place amid Saudi pressure on the family to “cover up the crime”.

The 59-year-old was killed when he went to the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork ahead of marrying his Turkish fiancee.

Turkey on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia to answer questions that remain over the murder of Khashoggi, such as who ordered his killing and what happened to the body.

Saudi authorities last week claimed Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed during a "brawl" and arrested 18 Saudis in connection with his death.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week said the "savage" murder had been planned, while Turkish media have published gruesome details of Khashoggi's alleged torture and decapitation.

"There are still questions that need answers," said Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who demanded the Saudis explain why the 18 were arrested.

"Who gave them the orders?" he asked, pointing out that Khashoggi's body had still not been found.

"Where is (the body)? They admit they did it, but why are they not saying (where it is)?" Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara. "His family also wants to know and to pay their final tribute." 

The Turkish minister repeated Erdogan's demand that those involved in the murder should be tried in Turkey, adding that Ankara was willing to cooperate with everyone.

Turkey does not have "any desire" to take the case to an international court, he added, and was willing to share information and the outcome of its investigation.

CIA director briefs Trump

Also on Thursday, the head of the CIA briefed US President Donald Trump on the latest developments in the investigation into Khashoggi's killing, after she returned from a fact-finding mission to Turkey, officials said.

Gina Haspel delivered her report to Trump at the White House with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo present, said State Department spokesman Palladino.

Haspel shared her "findings and discussions from her trip to Turkey," he said. Palladino declined to say specifically what that included.

Haspel was in Ankara on Tuesday for meetings with Turkish officials.

The officials provided Haspel with video images and audio tapes, as well as evidence gathered from the consulate and the consul's residence, during a briefing at the Turkish Intelligence Organisation, the pro-government Sabah newspaper reported.

Asked to confirm whether this was true, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he could not provide an exact answer, but that Turkey would "share documents and evidence in our hands with countries and institutions that want it".