US raises pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist

a 15-member Saudi intelligence team involved in Khashoggi’s unexplained disappearance on Oct 2.

US Pre­si­dent Donald Trump incre­a­­­sed pressure on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to provide information on what happened to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said he wanted to get the bottom of what he called “a very serious situation”.
In a fresh clue, a pro-government Turkish daily on Wednesday published preliminary evidence from investigators it said identified a 15-member Saudi intelligence team involved in Khashoggi’s unexplained disappearance on Oct 2.
Trump, in comments in the Oval Office, told reporters he had raised Khas­hog­gi’s case with Saudi Arabia “at the highest level” and more than once in recent days.
“We’re demanding everything,” Trump said when asked if he was demanding information from the Sau­d­­is. “We want to see what’s going on. It’s a very serious situation for us and for this White House ... We want to get to the bottom of it.”
“People saw him go in and didn’t see him come out. We’re going to take a very serious look at it. It’s a terrible thing,” Trump said. “This is a bad situation. We cannot let this happen, to reporters, to anybody. We can’t let this happen.”
And in another sign the White House was stepping up pressure, White House national security adviser John Bolton and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday.
The White House also said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed up with his own call to the Crown Prince, who had forged close ties to the administration, especially Kushner.
“In both calls they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as available,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sand­ers said in a statement.
Trump made Saudi Arabia the first stop on his first foreign trip as president in May 2017, but in recent weeks has appeared to sour a bit on Riyadh, complaining directly to King Salman about the cost of American support for the Saudi military and for OPEC oil price increases.
15 JOURNALIST ARRESTED
 At least 15 Saudi journalists and bloggers have been arrested over the past year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday, following the disappearance of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“In most cases, their arrests have never been officially confirmed and no official has ever said where they are being held or what they are charged with,” RSF, which defends press freedom around the world, said in a statement.
Cases included that of Saleh al-Shihi, a journalist whose arrest was only confirmed in February when his family learned he had been sentenced to five years in prison, RSF said.
He disappeared in December 2017, but his detention was not revealed until his conviction and sentence were announced in the kingdom, the organisation added.
Economist and citizen-journalist Essam al-Zamel was put on trial this month for criticising the government’s economic strategy in a series of tweets and reports. It was only then officially confirmed he has been in jail for the past year.
Another journalist and commentator, Turad al-Amri, has been missing since November 2016 after protesting in a tweet to a clampdown on Saudi media, including the blocking of an online newspaper for which he had written. Fayez bin Damakh, another reporter and poet, has also been reported missing since September 2017 when he was about to launch a TV news channel in neighbouring Kuwait.
Local press reports suggested he was abducted and taken to Saudi Arabia, though this has never been confirmed.
“The traditionally opaque methods used by Saudi Arabia to silence critical journalists constitute grounds for fearing the worst in the case of Khashoggi’s disappearance,” said Sophie Anmuth, head of RSF’s Middle East desk.
Khashoggi, who lived in self-imposed exile in the United States, vanished on October 2 after entering Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain official documents ahead of his marriage to his Turkish fiancee.
On Wednesday, Turkish television released CCTV footage of him entering the consulate.
Saudi authorities have said the journalist left the building after his visit and rejected Turkish police suggestions he might have been killed there.
RSF is calling for an independent international investigation to determine his fate.
A total of 25 to 30 professional and non-professional journalists are currently believed to be detained in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the organisation also said.

Saudi visitors

One of the 15 Saudis identified by name and photo in the report by Turkey’s Sabah newspaper is a forensic expert who has worked at the Saudi Interior Min­istry for 20 years, according to a LinkedIn profile and Saudi media, and serves on the board of the Saudi Society of Forensic Medicine.
Other names and photos of the 15, who Sabah said travelled on diplomatic passports, match officers in the Saudi Army and Air Force, as identified by previous Saudi media reports and in one case a Facebook profile.
Sabah newspaper published the names and years of birth of the 15 Saudis it said arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. Twelve of them arrived early on Tuesday, based on photos captured at passport control which it published. The 15 departed at four different times, Sabahreported.
The Sabah report said that the Saudis stayed at the Wyndham and Moven­pick hotels in Istanbul, in the same neighbourhood as the Saudi consulate. Both ho­­­tels declined to comment.
Aksam newspaper also published blurred photos of a jet arriving in Istanbul before dawn on Oct 2, carrying what it said were nine members of the Saudi team, as well as images of some of them checking in at a hotel.
Aksam said they left their hotel later in the morning. Shortly after midday it said several cars entered the consulate building. A picture of Khashoggi entering the consulate shows the time-stamp 13:14.
About two hours later Aksam showed two vehicles, one of them a black Mer­ce­des Vito van with tinted win­dows and diplomatic plates, leaving the consula­te and entering the car park of the residence shortly afterwards.

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South Punjab News : US raises pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist
US raises pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist
a 15-member Saudi intelligence team involved in Khashoggi’s unexplained disappearance on Oct 2.
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