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Saudi Arabia says Crown-Prince not behind phone-hacking scandal

WASHINGTON: Commenting on the accusation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the hacking of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ phone the  Saudi diplomatic mission here stated today via Twitter: “Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd”. 

Saudi HackingIt is pertinent to mention here that Bezos’ phone was hacked in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had been sent reportedly from the personal account of Saudi Crown.

According to details encrypted message from the Crown Prince reportedly had included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone Bezos had used and within hours extracted an enormous amount of information.

It has been insinuated that the alleged hacking might be the consequence of Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post that had been running anti-Saudi Kingdom pieces authored by Jamal Khashoggi.

Five to die for the killing of WP columnist Jamal Khashoggi

RIYADH: A court here has sentenced five people to death, three others sentenced to prison,  for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist,  in the Saudi diplomatic post at Istanbul last year.

Though the kingdom carried out the trials secretly, all can appeal the verdicts. It is pertinent to mention here that several Saudi agents involved in the incident worked directly for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who drew international condemnation for the killing.

The public prosecutor held that the then-deputy intelligence chief ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi but the chief negotiator ordered him killed after parleys for his return failed.

Jamal Khashoggi murder: Saudi Crown Prince says he bears responsibility!

RIYADH: Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of KSA, who had not spoken publicly about the murder of Khashoggi, had finally said today here since the murder took place under his watch he bears the responsibility for the killing of the journalist last year.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Washington Post columnist Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2nd of October, 2018 where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding. Eleven Saudi suspects had been put on trial in secretive proceedings but according to sources only a few hearings had been held.

The official Saudi Arabian narrative blamed the killing on rogue operatives after initial denials.

PFUJ lends support to IFJ’s query about missing Saudi writer

KARACHI: Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) G.M. Jamali has stated that Media fraternity here fully supported International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)’s query apropos missing Saudi writer, former editor in chief of the Saudi daily El Watan and political commentator Jamal Khashoggi.

Earlier President IFJ Philippe Leruth had taken to the twitter to condemn the disappearance: 

IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger said: “We are all anxious for news on Khashoggi’s fate. While waiting for Turkey’s official investigation report, we call on the Saudi authorities to immediately release the images supporting their claims that he left the building.”

Jamal Khashoggi, who lived in self-imposed exile in Washington, disappeared on 2nd of October after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. It is pertinent to mention here that he was critical of Saudi Policies at home and abroad particularly in Yemen.

UN: Saudis planned Khashoggi murder

GENEVA: A special UN rapporteur probing the murder in Turkey of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi claimed today the killing was planned and carried out by state officials from the kingdom.
“Evidence collected during my mission to Turkey shows prima facie case that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia,” Agnes Callamard said at the end of a visit to Turkey, according to a UN statement.

S. Arabia must hold Khashoggi killers ‘accountable’: Pompeo

DOHA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that he would ask Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure the murderers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held “accountable”.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring accountability,” Pompeo said in Doha after talks with Qatari government officials.

His comments came ahead of a planned visit to the kingdom later today as part of a Middle East tour.

Turkey prosecutor seeks arrest of two Saudi crown prince allies over Khashoggi murder

ISTANBUL:  A Turkish prosecutor has demanded that arrest warrants be issued against two Saudi nationals close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish source close to the investigation said Wednesday.
Khashoggi, 59, was killed shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage.
The chief prosecutor’s office in Istanbul filed an application Tuesday to obtain the warrants for Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, described in court documents as being “among the planners” of the murder of the Washington Post contributor Khashoggi.
Assiri often sat in during Prince Mohammed’s closed-door meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries and Qahtani was a key counselor to the crown prince. Both were sacked after Riyadh admitted Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate.
According to Turkey, a 15-member Saudi team was sent to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government but has insisted it was not King Salman.
Riyadh has since detained 21 people over the murder. Despite speculation that the powerful crown prince ordered the hit, the kingdom has strongly denied he was involved.
But two key US Republican senators said a Tuesday briefing by the CIA’s director only strengthened their conviction that Prince Mohammed directed the murder.
The Istanbul prosecutor in charge of the investigation said in late October that the Saudi former insider turned critic was strangled then his body was cut into pieces.
The remains of Khashoggi’s body have not been found.
There has been speculation in pro-government media that his body was dissolved in acid.
A senior Turkish official Wednesday said the prosecutor’s move “reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won’t take formal action against those individuals”.
The official, who did not wish to be named, pointed to the fact that the wording of the prosecutor’s request suggested that the current list wasn’t necessarily exhaustive, appearing to indicate that more arrest warrants could be sought.
Amid criticism from Ankara over Saudi Arabia’s lack of cooperation with the Turkish investigation, the official said Riyadh could “address those concerns” over its commitment to probing the murder by extraditing all the suspects to Turkey.

Saudi warns crown prince a ‘red line’ in Khashoggi probe

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has warned criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a “red line“ after Donald Trump heaped praise on the kingdom in defiance of warnings he was giving Riyadh a pass on a journalist’s grisly murder.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Wednesday that calls for the crown prince to be held accountable for the grisly killing of Jamal Khashoggi would not be tolerated.
His comments came as the US president praised Saudi Arabia for keeping oil prices low — one strand of his argument against punishing Riyadh even though the CIA reportedly found strong evidence that the crown prince, the de facto Saudi leader, was involved in the murder.
“In Saudi Arabia, our leadership is a red line. The custodian of the two holy mosques (King Salman) and the crown prince are a red line,” Jubeir told the BBC.
“They represent every Saudi citizen and every Saudi citizen represents them. And we will not tolerate any discussion of anything that is disparaging towards our monarch or our crown prince.”
Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, killed and reportedly dismembered.
After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the crown prince.
But Trump, on holiday at his Florida Mar-a-Lago Club on Wednesday, doubled down on a statement from Tuesday that he was essentially ignoring the killing of Khashoggi because of what he said was more important US strategic and commercial interest
“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82,” he tweeted. “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”
Jubeir insisted that Prince Mohammed had not been involved in the killing.
“We have made that very clear. We have investigations ongoing and we will punish the individuals who are responsible for this,” he said.

Canadian sanctions on Saudis over Khashoggi case

OTTAWA: Canada is considering sanctions on Saudis over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said.

She made these remarks after the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Thursday announced Magnitsky Act sanction on 17 Saudi individuals over their alleged roles in the killing of Khashoggi.

“Canada welcomes the U.S. action. When it comes to Canada, we also do have Magnitsky legislation in place and that is a tool that we have found very useful in our foreign policy. And that is certainly something which in the coming days Canada is actively considering,” said Freeland in Port Colborne, Ontario Thursday for a media availability to discuss the new North America trade deal.

The United States’ Magnitsky Act was passed in 2012 under former President Barack Obama. It was named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Moscow prison after he was arrested over an alleged tax fraud.

The law allows the U.S. government to sanction offenders abroad, seize their assets and ban them from entering the United States.

Canada’s own version of the Magnitsky Act was passed last year, giving the federal government powers to freeze assets owned by individuals if the government believes them to be involved in corruption, money laundering, and human rights abuses in their own countries.

UK’s Hunt visits Gulf for Khashoggi, Yemen talks

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will visit Saudi Arabia today where he will press King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
During a trip to the region that includes a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Hunt will also seek to build support for UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, the Foreign Office said.
His visit comes amid an international diplomatic crisis over the murder of Saudi journalist Khashoggi, a US resident, at his country’s consulate in Istanbul in October.
“The international community remains united in horror and outrage at the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi one month ago,” said Hunt, who will also meet Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
“It is clearly unacceptable that the full circumstances behind his murder still remain unclear.
“We encourage the Saudi authorities to co-operate fully with the Turkish investigation into his death so that we deliver justice for his family and the watching world.”
Hunt’s visit comes after British undersecretary for foreign affairs Simon McDonald held talks with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and foreign minister in Riyadh.
During his brief visit to the Gulf, Hunt will also meet Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani.
Britain is seeking support among regional partners for new action at the UN Security Council for peace talks in Yemen.
“The human cost of the war in Yemen is incalculable: with millions displaced, famine and disease rife and years of bloodshed, the only solution is now a political decision to set aside arms and pursue peace,” Hunt said.
“Britain has a unique position, both as pen-holder at the UN Security Council and as a key influencer in the region, so today I am traveling to the Gulf to demand that all sides commit to this process.
“We are witnessing a manmade humanitarian catastrophe on our watch: now is the window to make a difference, and to get behind both the UN peace process and current UK efforts in the Security Council.”
The Foreign Office also said Hunt would raise the case of Matthew Hedges, a Ph.D. student who denies charges of spying in the UAE.

Khashoggi recordings shared with S. Arabia, US, UK!

ANKARA: Turkey has shared recordings linked to the 2nd October murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Riyadh, Washington and other capitals, President Tayyip Erdogan said today.

“We gave the recordings, we gave them to Saudi Arabia, we gave them to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the English,” he said in a televised speech.

Saudis vow ‘complete’ probe of Khashoggi murder: Mattis

PRAGUE: Saudi Arabia has promised a “full” investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis informed today.

The announcement was made following talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Bahrain:  “We discussed it… the need for transparency, full and complete investigation. Full agreement from FM Jubeir, no reservations at all,” Mattis told reporters following the talks.
“No reservations at all. He (Jubeir) said we need to know what happened and it was very collaborative, in agreement,” the Pentagon chief told reporters on a flight from Manama to Prague where he will mark the centenary of Czechoslovakia.
Speaking later today at a joint press conference here with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Mattis gave a nod to Turkey’s probe into the murder.
“Certainly Turkey with the evidence that they have compiled will ensure that there is more than one review of what is going on there and I am certain the investigation will include the evidence that Turkey has put forward so far,” Mattis said.

Erdogan wants Istanbul trial over Khashoggi murder

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today called for the trial in Istanbul of the Saudi suspects in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a crime that he said was intricately planned days in advance.
Erdogan had promised that his speech in Ankara would give the “naked truth” about the killing and he gave a host of new details while still saying Turkey wanted answers to key questions, including who gave the orders.
Hours before Erdogan delivered his speech to ruling party lawmakers, a major Saudi investment forum opened in Riyadh under the heavy shadow of the murder after key delegates pulled out. The murder of the Washington Post contributor has damaged the international reputation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has spearheaded a reform drive in the kingdom.
“My demand is that 18 people be tried in Istanbul,” Erdogan said in a speech to ruling party lawmakers in Ankara, referring to 18 people including security officials who have already been detained by Riyadh.
He added that “all those who played a role in the murder” had to face punishment. Erdogan said that the murder was “planned” days in advance according to a “roadmap” set up by a Saudi team who were sent to Istanbul for the purpose. The surveillance system at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was deactivated on purpose, he said.
“First they (the Saudis implicated) removed the hard disc from the camera system,” Erdogan said. “This is a political murder,” he added. But Erdogan added he still wanted answers on numerous issues including “who gave orders” to the team and where the corpse is. Erdogan did not mention Prince Mohammed by name in the speech but said he was confident of the full cooperation of his father Saudi King Salman in the probe.

Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead!

ISTANBUL: It is now known that Saudi journalist Adnan Khashoggi has been strangled by agents during a fistfight inside Saudi diplomatic mission here.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said Sunday the kingdom did not know where the body of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi was, despite admitting to the killing and calling it a “tremendous mistake.”

It has been insinuated that the assassination was planned well in advance and the top brass knew about it. Meanwhile, Pakistan has welcomed today the contacts between Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and their desire to continue working together to address the Jamal Khashoggi issue. “We welcome the steps taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey to address this issue,” the Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement.

Disclosing facts to the public and bringing those responsible to justice was important in that regard, the spokesman added.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.