Britain’s Brexit Minister Dominic Raab has cast doubt on Riyadh’s explanation related to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who, according to Riyadh, died in a fistfight inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“No, I don’t think it is credible. […] We support the Turkish investigation into it and the British government will want to see people held to account for that death,” Raab told the BBC.
Before possibly making a “sensible and sober judgement call” on its further steps on the matter, the UK should obtain more information about Khashoggi’s death, according to Raab.
He also made it clear that Britain is not going to terminate its relations with Saudi Arabia, “not just because of the huge number of British jobs that depend on it but also because if you exert influence over your partners you need to be able to talk to them.”
On Friday, the Saudi prosecutor general announced that the preliminary conclusion about the fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was that a fistfight broke out between him and people who met him in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an altercation that eventually led to his death.
The announcement came as Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reportedly issued a decree to remove from office Ahmed Asiri, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Directorate.
The Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday that the King also dismissed Saud Qahtani, the adviser to the Royal Court, amid the probe into the disappearance of Khashoggi.
Also on Saturday, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said that they are mulling a response to the death of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“We send our condolences to Jamal Khashoggi’s family after this confirmation of his death. We are considering the Saudi report and our next steps. As the Foreign Secretary has said, this was a terrible act and those responsible must be held to account,” the spokesperson pointed out.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump said that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies” concerning Saudi authorities’ explanation of Khashoggi’s death.
In a separate development, Reuters cited Saudi sources as saying on conditions of anonymity that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince “Mohammed bin Salman had no knowledge of the specific operation that resulted in the death of Khashoggi.”
“Mohammed bin Salman […] certainly did not order a kidnapping or murder of anybody,” the source said, claiming that the location of Khashoggi’s body is unclear since it was ostensibly handed over to a “local cooperator.”