Khashoggi sons issue emotional appeal for return of their father's body

#Khashoggi

In CNN interview, sons call their father 'courageous, generous and very brave,' and say they have endured weeks of anguish since his killing

Man lights candles for Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul (AFP)
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Monday 5 November 2018 6:59 UTC
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The sons of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi appealed over CNN television for the return of their father's body, in their first interview since he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi, who called their father "courageous, generous and very brave," said they have endured weeks of anguish since his disappearance.

"I really hope that whatever happened wasn't painful for him, or it was quick. Or he had a peaceful death," Abdullah Khashoggi, 33, told CNN during a sit-down interview in Washington with his brother, Salah, 35.

Authorities in Turkey are still searching for the journalist's remains.

Khashoggi went to the consulate to retrieve paperwork for his pending marriage and never emerged from the building.

The Saudis' story has changed repeatedly since that time, with the country's public prosecutor saying last week that Khashoggi's killing was premeditated.

Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and then dismembered in the consulate, Turkish officials have told Middle East Eye, and a senior aide to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that the journalist's body had been dissolved in acid.

Erdogan slammed Saudi Arabia over its handling of the slaying in a Washington Post column published on Friday, saying the order to kill the exiled Saudi journalist was ordered at "the highest levels of the Saudi government".

Still, his article made no mention of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is seen as the kingdom's de-facto ruler.

Critics have accused bin Salman, also known as MBS, of being involved in Khashoggi's killing, though the Saudis have strongly denied that he had any knowledge of the murder or its subsequent cover-up.

Without their father's body, the brothers say their family is unable to grieve or find closure.

What really troubles the sons, their two sisters and their mother are the lies, they say, that have sprung up since Khashoggi's death.

MBS described Khashoggi as a "dangerous Islamist" in a phone call with top White House officials shortly after he disappeared, the Washington Post reported on Friday, a claim that Khashoggi’s family denied.

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In a statement to the Post, the family said he was not a member of the group. “He denied such claims repeatedly over the past several years.”

“Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person in any way possible. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous,” the statement said.

Asked on Sunday how Khashoggi should be remembered, Salah replied, "as a moderate man who has common values with everyone... a man who loved his country, who believed so much in it and its potential".

He added: "Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy, that it is the thing that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is going through."

MBS has publicly backed a Saudi economic diversification and social reform plan called Vision 2030.