An independent UN investigator and special rapporteur says those who orchestrated and committed the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul are “high enough to represent the Saudi state.”
Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, made the remarks on Thursday, while speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
She also noted that Khashoggi was the victim of an “extrajudicial execution” carried out by the Saudi state.
Callamard said she didn’t need to know who was linked to the crime in order to conclude it was an “extrajudicial execution,” but noted that it still remains unclear how high up the order to kill Khashoggi went.
The UN investigator also reiterated an earlier call for an independent probe to “validate” the findings of investigations being carried out by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
In similar comments on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal he wanted to believe Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the killing at the Saudi mission.
But he suggested responsibility lay higher up. “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him,” Trump said.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said Thursday a joint Saudi-Turkish investigation shows that Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated,” dismissing an earlier account that the dissident journalist had died in a botched operation to “negotiate” his return to the kingdom.
“Information from the Turkish side affirms that the suspects in Khashoggi’s case premeditated their crime,” said a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor.
Riyadh’s alleged role in the assassination of Khashoggi has sparked global condemnation in recent days, prompting dozens of firms and officials from across the world to suspend their deals with the kingdom and boycott a Saudi Arabian investor conference.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia hosted its annual investment conference, called the Davos in the Desert, while several media outlets and companies had backed out over Khashoggi’s killing.
The event was originally co-sponsored by major Western media organizations – including Bloomberg, CNN, the New York Times and Fox Business News – but they all pulled out of the event.
The finance ministers from France, the UK and the Netherlands also withdrew amid growing public pressure, as did US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
WWE to stage wrestling event in Riyadh despite global outcry
Despite the global condemnation, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has announced that it will go ahead with a high-profile wrestling event, slated for November 2 in Riyadh, as part of a deal with Saudi Arabia reportedly worth $450 million.
“WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizeable and dedicated fan base. Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event,” WWE said in a news release Thursday.
“Similar to other US-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event,” it added.
WWE signed the contract back in March as part of the Saudi crown prince’s Vision 2030 plan.
The company has hosted events in Saudi Arabia before. In April, WWE hosted its “Greatest Royal Rumble” event in the coastal city of Jeddah, bringing big-name wrestlers John Cena and Triple H to compete.