Saudi crown prince vows to bring Khashoggi killers to justice

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The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was "premeditated", Saudi state-run media reported on Thursday.

As such, the Saudi government might have brutally murdered an outspoken journalist, but it is quite unlikely that Washington would really get tough with its steadfast ally and hold Riyadh's feet to the fire over the incident, let alone impose economic sanctions or halting arms sales to the Saudis.

Turkey has been focusing on a well in the garden of Saudi Arabia's consulate as part of its investigation into the killing by Saudi officials of writer Jamal Khashoggi, whose body is still missing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the U.S. had "identified at least some" of the Saudi officials involved in the killing of Khashoggi and was revoking their visas.

At a conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, the crown prince said the killing was a "heinous crime that can not be justified" and warned against any efforts to "manipulate" the crisis and drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are regional rivals but also diplomatic and business partners.

The Saudi Crown Prince on Wednesday commented sarcastically on reports suggesting that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had been held against his will in Saudi Arabia past year.

Mohammed bin Salman pointedly declared his country and Turkey would only stay united with him, his father and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power, as he accused forces of trying to use Jamal Khashoggi's death to drive a wedge between them.

On Tuesday the U.S. president voiced his strongest criticism of the Saudi government to date and suggested the crown prince must have known what was going on. The U.S. has always been Saudi Arabia's most important partner and Trump has made the kingdom the centerpiece of his efforts to isolate Iran. He had been planning to settle in Istanbul and marry his Turkish fiancee when he was detained and killed in the Saudi consulate.

Saudi Arabia first denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance but a Saudi official eventually attributed his death on October 2 to a botched attempt to return him to the kingdom.

But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: "Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage".

The Prime Minister has rejected the Saudi claim that Mr Khashoggi died after a fight at the consulate.

"It is a disgrace that reaches all the way to Crown Prince (Mohammed bin) Salman".

This account attempts to distance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the killing, even though officials linked to the 33-year-old ruler have been implicated.

An official in Washington said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had "raised the safety and security of the Khashoggi family members with the Saudi leadership", but declined to discuss the specifics of Salah's travel. Saudi Arabia has said his death was the result of a "rogue operation" by people acting beyond the scope of their authority, and 18 Saudis have been arrested.

"We are determined not to allow any cover-up of this murder and for all those responsible - from those who gave the command to those who executed it - not to escape justice", he said at a meeting in Ankara.

It later acknowledged that he had in fact been murdered, as Turkish officials said all along.

Investigators found two suitcases containing documents and a laptop the previous day after permission to search the vehicle was granted by the Saudi team, Turkish state news reported.