Man suspected of being linked to Jamal Khashoggi's killing arrested in France

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  • Jamal Khashoggi
    Saudi journalist (1958-2018)

PARIS — A man suspected of being linked to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was arrested Tuesday at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, two officials close to the investigation said. 

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared Oct. 2, 2018, after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. His killing sparked international outrage.

One of the officials said the man, who is of Saudi origin, was arrested at the airport's border control checkpoint Tuesday morning when he presented his passport to board a flight to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The officials said that the man’s name is Khalid Alotaibi and that he is 33 years old. He was arrested on a warrant issued by Turkish authorities, the officials said. 

Alotaibi is listed by the Treasury Department as one of 17 Saudis sanctioned in 2018 for their roles in Khashoggi’s killing. 

Alotaibi was arrested just days after French President Emmanuel Macron held face-to-face talks with Prince Mohammed in Saudi Arabia, becoming the first major Western leader to visit the kingdom since Khashoggi's murder, Reuters reported. 

Related video: U.S./Saudi Arabia relations put to test following Khashoggi report

Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, tweeted that she welcomed the arrest. 

“France should try him for his crime, or extradite him to a country able and willing to genuinely investigate and prosecute him as well as the person who gave the order to murder Jamal,” Cengiz said. 

Khashoggi, 59, was a Saudi citizen working as a Washington Post columnist when he was lured to the consulate in Istanbul and killed by a team of intelligence operatives with close ties to the crown prince. His body was dismembered in part with a bone saw, U.S. officials have said, and the remains have never been found.

After it first denied the killing, the Saudi government changed course and asserted that Khashoggi was killed by accident as the team sought to forcibly extradite him. The Saudis said that the team acted on its own and that the crown prince was not involved.

In February, a long-awaited U.S. intelligence report concluded that the crown prince, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, approved the gruesome killing.

Khashoggi’s killing horrified the world and put a stop to efforts by the crown prince, who had been building his image as a modernizer, to woo the globe.

The ambitious prince, 36, who has rapidly consolidated power since his father became king in 2015, said in 2019 that he took “full responsibility” for the killing because it happened on his watch, but he denied having ordered it.

Eight men were convicted in a trial for Khashoggi’s killing in Saudi Arabia that international observers called a farce; five got the death penalty. Their sentences were commuted to 20 years after they were alleged to have been forgiven by Khashoggi’s relatives.

Last year, Turkey also put 20 Saudi officials on trial in absentia in connection with the killing.

Nancy Ing reported from Paris. Yuliya Talmazan reported from London.

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