Saudi Arabia deployed Twitter army against critics including Jamal Khashoggi, says report

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Germany is freezing arms exports to Saudi Arabia as Riyadh faces a growing chorus of global condemnation over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate and near-universal disbelief over the kingdom's shifting explanations for his death.

He added that Saudi King Salman was "determined to see this investigation through, determined to ascertain the facts, determined to hold those responsible accountable and determined to put in place policies and procedures in the security services to prevent something like this from ever happening again".

After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted Saturday that the Washington Post columnist, a prominent critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on October 2.

No CCTV footage showed him ever exiting the building and he was declared a missing person. He also said the kingdom does not know what happened to Khashoggi's body after his death.

Riyadh's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir insisted Sunday Mr. Khashoggi's death was the fault of a "rogue operation" and a "tremendous mistake", and vowed the perpetrators would be punished.

President Trump acknowledged that "there's been deception and there's been lies" from the Saudis, but he has no proof the crown prince orchestrated the killing.

The Washington Post, where Mr. Khashoggi wrote opinion columns critical of Crown Prince Salman over the past year, reported last week that USA intelligence intercepted communications between Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture the writer before his disappearance.

Asked if he believed the Saudi government's explanation, Raab said: "No, I don't think it's credible".

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Angela Merkel and her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, issued a joint statement on Saturday, saying "the information provided about the sequence of events in the consulate in Istanbul isn't sufficient".

Turkish officials say he was murdered - and his body dismembered - and that they have audio and video evidence.

But Trump said last week he saw no reason to cut off weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi's disappearance. "We don't know where the body is", he said.

"I find it impossible to believe that the crown prince was not involved, so go after him and his inner circle", he suggested.

Eighteen Saudi nationals had been arrested, the Saudi public prosecutor said in a statement.

Mutreb replied, "Yes, we will drug you and kidnap you", in what the official said was an attempt at intimidation that violated the mission's objective. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on NBC the Saudi ambassador to the US should be expelled until the matter is settled.

The official said all 15 team members had been detained and placed under investigation, along with three other local suspects.

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