Missing journalist: Alleged member of Khashoggi 'hit squad' seen at Saudi consulate

Erdogan meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Esenboga International Airport in Ankara Turkey Oct. 17 2018

Murat Cetinmuhurdar Presidential Press Office Reuters

Meanwhile, International Trade Minister Liam Fox has been told to pull out of a business conference in Saudi Arabia next week as finance ministers from France and the Netherlands and prominent banking executives have scrapped their plans to attend.

After he was shown into the office of the Saudi consul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, the agents seized Khashoggi nearly immediately and began to beat and torture him, eventually cutting off his fingers, the senior Turkish official said.

Khashoggi, a onetime ally of the Saudi royal family turned critic, disappeared on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to procure documents he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Some of the individuals involved reportedly have close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely known as MBS.

Pompeo was also tight-lipped after meeting the Saudi leadership in Riyadh, telling journalists he did not want "to talk about any of the facts". He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman, and he said both deny any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that it did not dismiss the possibility that Khashoggi's sudden disappearance was an attempt to silence the writer.

When asked about Khashoggi's disappearance last Thursday, Trump said that while "we don't like it even a little bit", it wouldn't be "acceptable" to him to stop selling billions of dollars worth of weapons to Riyadh.

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He has not been seen since he stepped inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have set up a joint team to investigate the disappearance.

"I do think it's important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relationships ― financial relationships between USA and Saudi companies, governmental relationships, things we work on together all across the world, the efforts to [counter Iran]", Pompeo said, according to CNN.

Late Tuesday evening, citing an anonymous Turkish officials, several news outlets reported that Khashoggi was brutally murdered and his remains were dismembered.

Turkish officials have said he was killed on the premises and his body removed.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that a suspect identified by Turkey was a frequent companion of the prince's. Three other suspects are linked to his security detail and a fifth is a high-level forensic doctor, The Times said.

Khashoggi in the past said he always considered himself a patriot, viewing his criticism of the Saudi government as a sign of his love for Saudi Arabia and a desire for conditions there to improve. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent".

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