United Nations rights chief calls for lifting Saudi 'immunity' over Khashoggi case

US Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin taking an ear piece out during a joint press conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin Germany 16 March 2017

US Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin taking an ear piece out during a joint press conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin Germany 16 March 2017

A team of Turkish police investigating the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago, spent more than nine hours in the building, a Reuters witness said.

Saudi Arabia can lift the immunity of its consulate and officials.

The narrative they plan to present, according to the New York Times, is that the Saudi government ordered its operatives to interrogate Mr Khashoggi but that something went wrong and the journalist was accidentally killed.

President Donald Trump on Monday talked to the Saudi King, during which the latter flatly denied having any knowledge of the missing journalist. We need answers from the Saudis about Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

That "would completely destroy its image as a "reliable supplier" and undermine the king's powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he said.

Khashoggi was once a prominent member of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a top adviser to the royal family.

He has not been seen since he walked into the Istanbul consulate - officially Saudi territory - to sort out marriage paperwork on October 2.

Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have been tense in recent months. America's top diplomat thanked the king "for accepting my visit on behalf of President (Donald) Trump" before going into a closed-door meeting. Certain areas of the consulate were to remain off-limits, although officials would be able to inspect surveillance cameras, Turkish media reported.

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Seznec suggested that if the crisis escalated, the crown prince could even demand payment for oil in China's currency, the yuan, instead of dollars.

But the theory was widely dismissed among Khashoggi's friends, human-rights advocates and some on Capitol Hill, who noted that Saudi officials had denied his death for two weeks - including assertions by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week and the king himself Monday.

Khashoggi's fate has troubled Washington and Saudi Arabia's other traditional Western allies. "The US must not be complicit in an effort to cover up this heinous crime", he said. "President Trump's suggestion that Khashoggi's elaborately planned murder in the Saudi's own consulate was orchestrated by "rogue killers" defies reality", said Senator Chris Van Hollen. The evidence never surfaced, however, and the claims stopped after a sudden increase in high-level diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Media reports indicate that the Kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed in the consulate. That potentially offers the USA -allied kingdom a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.

It is highly unlikely an attempted rendition of Khashoggi could have been carried out without the knowledge of Saudi rulers. USA lawmakers have been demanding to scrap the $110 billion mega defence deal with the Saudis, whereas heads of several companies, CEOs, newspapers have announced not to attend an upcoming finance conference in Saudi Arabia. And ensuring Riyadh's willingness to increase oil production so that coming sanctions on Iranian oil do not lead to a surge in gas prices has been at least as important.

In a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday, Trump said there would be consequences if it turned out Saudi Arabia had anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance.

But the New York Times called that figure "wildly inflated and misleading", saying the package in question "essentially consisted of letters of intent or interest, not actual contracts". The columnist is one of the best-known news-media personalities in the kingdom and has been a confidant to several previous kings and princes.

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