Thu. Jan 20th, 2022


French police have arrested a Saudi citizen suspected of involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as he prepares to board a flight to Riyadh, according to French media reports.

The arrest comes days after French President Emmanuel Macron Visited Saudi Arabia in an effort to improve relations with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A man wanted for murder in Turkey was detained at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Tuesday when he was about to board a plane en route to the Saudi capital, a police official said. told the FT. French prosecutors will have to decide whether to continue his extradition to Turkey or to detain him if he disputes the warrant, the official added.

France’s RTL radio and AFP identified the man, adding that police were still checking his identity. They said the murder charges in the Interpol warrant – issued by Turkey – were linked to Khashoggi’s murder.

The murder in 2018 unleashed a worldwide uproar. Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and one of the kingdom’s most prominent journalists. He was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and his body was dismantled. US intelligence concluded a report released this year that Prince Mohammed approved the Khashoggi operation, although he denied involvement.

The arrest comes just after Macron endured criticism from human rights groups over his visit to Saudi Arabia, when he became the first Western leader to return to visit Prince Mohammed in the kingdom in the aftermath of the Khashoggi assassination.

Macron told reporters on Saturday that he had discussed human rights with the crown prince, with “no taboos” and addressed the Khashoggi issue in “direct” talks, but said France should speak to all sides to help peace talks in the region. “It does not mean that we approve of it or that we forget,” Macron said. In Jeddah, the state-run Saudi Arabian Military Industries announced joint ventures with French companies Airbus and Figeac Aéro.

The arrest could disrupt the ties between the two countries. The man, who was mentioned by the French media, is believed to be among 17 Saudis who were approved by the US Treasury Department in 2018 for their role in Khashoggi’s murder.

Saudi Arabia denied Prince Mohammed’s guilt in the assassination and maintained it was a rogue operation.

The kingdom later sentenced eight people to prison for the murder, without naming them in public. Two senior assistants suspected of involvement in Khashoggi’s assassination, Prince Mohammed’s assistant Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri, have been acquitted.



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