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

REUTERS  Danny Moloshok

REUTERS Danny Moloshok

Some lawmakers like Graham want a bill with teeth that will punish Saudi Arabia, while others are keen not to antagonize the White House. The Saudis have charged 11 people in the case.

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.

Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he now has "zero question" in his mind "that the crown prince directed the murder".

The Journal and other US media outlets have reported the Central Intelligence Agency has evidence that MBS exchanged 11 messages with a close aide who oversaw the murder shortly before and after it took place.

Stewart suggested that the Senate could have been briefed on different information than he was, but still stood by President Donald Trump's soft stance against Saudi Arabia in wake of the killing.

The crown prince is "crazy" and "a wrecking ball" who is "complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible", Graham said in withering criticism of an American ally.

Khashoggi was killed in October, at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, "All evidence points to that, that all this leads back to the crown prince".

"This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way", Shelby said.

"Let me just put it this way: I think if he was in front of a jury, he would have a unanimous verdict in about 30 minutes". By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi authorities could address those concerns.

Last week, senators received a briefing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor has said Asiri was the one who ordered the operation to repatriate - but not kill - Khashoggi.

U.S. intelligence community assessments and experts said it's unlikely the killing could have happened without the crown prince's knowledge. His killing sparked global outrage over the kingdom's heavy-handed tactics and renewed attention to the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Obviously that's a huge sign of progress, but an even more important takeaway is the fact that these senators say they feel purposefully mislead by a Republican administration, and have made a vote against its interests.

Their position contradicted that of Trump who has been more neutral over who was responsible for Khashoggi's death.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) echoed that conclusion.

Stewart said he didn't buy it.

"Not everything needs to be secret", the Connecticut Democrat tweeted. Initially, Saudi authorities had said Khashoggi, who had written articles critical of the crown prince's policies, had disappeared, after safely leaving the consulate. And the Trump Administration's support of MBS was equally evident during a November 27 briefing that Haspel was conspicuously absent from. But according to reports, CIA intelligence implicates MBS and indicates that Khashoggi's killers were likely acting on direct orders from the Saudi crown prince.

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