Saudi Arabia is preparing to acknowledge the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a botched interrogation, CNN and the New York Times said on Monday, after U.S. President Donald Trump speculated "rogue killers" may be responsible.
Khashoggi, a US resident, Washington Post columnist and leading critic of the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago to get marriage documents.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday he had seen a media report that Saudi officials might say Khashoggi was killed during an unauthorised interrogation, but "nobody knows" if this was an official report.
The Washington Post, to which Khashoggi contributed as a columnist, has said the Turkish government had told USA officials it had audio and video recordings showing how Khashoggi was "interrogated, tortured and then murdered" by a 15-member Saudi security team inside the consulate before his body was dismembered.
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"His denial to me could not have been stronger", Trump said, echoing language he has used to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin's denials of meddling in the 2016 election that sent Trump to the White House.
With Trump now appearing to buy into theories about "rogue killers" being responsible, even while Ankara claims it possesses strong evidence of Riyadh's guilt, it seems certain that anyone expecting a strong U.S. response to Khashoggi's disappearance would be well advised to lower their expectations now.
Saudi and Turkish investigators have been seen entering the Saudi consulate where Mr Khashoggi was last seen.
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In the past days, a slew of business leaders announced they would not attend the second Future Investment Initiative. Saudi and Turkish investigators have been seen entering the Saudi consulate where Mr Khashoggi was last seen.
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Moreover, he alleged that these accusations could be an agenda as they have surfaced a few months before the 2019 elections. On Sunday, Akbar denied the allegations as "false, baseless and wild". "I feel let down by the powers that be", Paul said .
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Saudi officials have called all the allegations "baseless", but have offered no evidence the journalist left the consulate.
Over the weekend Trump had promised "severe punishment" if it turned out the journalist, a US resident and Washington Post columnist, had been killed. Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there and his body removed.
"I sounded to me like maybe there could have been rogue killers. But we want to find out what happened and he's got instructions to find out what happened".
The statements published on Sunday and Monday took aim at global governments and news organizations, accusing them of undermining Saudi Arabia's reputation without evidence and warning them against violating Saudi sovereignty.
United States politicians have backed the call for tough punitive action against the Saudis, while Germany, France and Britain have jointly called for a "credible investigation" into his disappearance.
But on Sunday Saudi Arabia said it rejected political and economic "threats" over the missing journalist and would respond to any punitive action "with a bigger one". "The Saudi government has said that they will not give in and take measures to retaliate against any pressure by the USA or other western countries".