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Khashoggi suspects 'will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia': Saudi FM

Jubeir rejects Turkish call for suspects to be extradited and criticises 'media hysteria' over murder of Saudi journalist
Addressing a defence forum in Bahrain, Jubeir said 'we will hold those responsible accountable' (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia will prosecute the suspects in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Riyadh's foreign minister said Saturday, in response to a call by Turkey's president for their extradition.

"On the issue of extradition, the individuals are Saudi nationals. They're detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia, and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia," Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a regional defence forum in the Bahraini capital.

Jubeir also told the forum that Riyadh's relations with the United States were "ironclad" amid what he described as "media hysteria" over the killing of Khashoggi.

The foreign minister's comments came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the extradition of 18 Saudi nationals authorities say were involved in the murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi government critic killed in his country's consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for nearly three weeks, Riyadh eventually admitted Khashoggi's murder had been "premeditated," but denied the involvement of the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"We will overcome it," Jubeir told the defence forum.

Failure of any nation to adhere to international norms and the rule of law undermines regional stability at a time when it is needed most

- US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis

"The issue, as I said, is being investigated. We will know the truth. We will hold those responsible accountable.

"And we will put in place mechanisms to ensure it doesn't happen again," he said.

Once an insider in Saudi royal circles, Khashoggi fell out of favour with the monarchy after bin Salman was named the heir to the throne last year.

The columnist went into self-imposed exile in the United States, where he wrote a column for The Washington Post, which was often critical of the crown prince.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to complete paperwork for his wedding to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

Sources have told MEE that Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered by a hit squad of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul to kill him.

Cengiz has demanded the punishment of everyone involved in his murder "from the highest to the lowest levels," AFP news agency reported. 

Trump gets CIA briefing

On Thursday, CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed US President Donald Trump on the latest developments in the investigation after a fact-finding mission to Turkey, AFP reported.

Pro-government Turkish media said that intelligence officers showed Haspel video images and audio tapes of Khashoggi's killing gathered from the consulate.

Prince Mohammed, the heir apparent to the kingdom's throne, has denounced the "repulsive" murder, denying any involvement. The Saudi leadership has pushed responsibility down the chain of command.

Questioned about the prince's possible involvement in the murder during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said: "Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage.

"He's running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him."

The president also called the case "one of the worst cover-ups in history".