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The New Arab

US could launch FBI investigation into Khashoggi disappearance

Mike Pence said that the "free world needs answers" regarding Khashoggi [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2018

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US Vice-president Mike Pence has said the US is 'ready' to assist in investigations into the disappearance of the Saudi journalist.

The US is "ready" to assist Tuekey with its investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US Vice-president Mike Pence said on Tuesday, indicating that FBI involvement would not be ruled out.

Pence's comments follow increased speculation about Khashoggi's fate, including reports on Tuesday that the Saudi dissident was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad.

"It's a great concern for the United States of America. The suggestion that this journalist, Mr. Khashoggi, was you know, was murdered should be deeply troubling to everyone that cares as a free and open press around the world," Pence told Salem Radio host Hugh Hewitt, in an interview aired on Wednesday.

"I think the United States of America stands ready to assist in any way. But as I said yesterday, the free world deserves answers," he added, in response to a question about whether the US would dispatch FBI agents to assist in the investigation.

Khashoggi's fiance sent out a plea to US President Donald Trump to help "shed light" on her partner's fate, on Wednesday. 

Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish national, had accompanied Khashoggi to the Saudi consulate before his disappearance last week. When he failed to reappear from the building, Cengiz raised the alarm about his safety.

"At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance," Cengiz wrote in a Washington Post article published on Wednesday.

"I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate."

Trump broke his silence on Tuesday into the disappearance of Khashoggi, but remained vague on details of what the US might do to pressure its ally Saudi Arabia on the issue.

"I am concerned. I don't like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out," Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. 

On Tuesday, outdoor surveillance footage surfaced showing the Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, however there is no evidence to suggest he ever left.

CCTV footage from the consulate, however, was reportedly taken back to Riyadh by a suspected assassination team who visited the consulate the same day that Khashoggi vanished.

Turkish daily Sabah listed the names and images of the 15 suspected Saudi operatives.

The squad had arrived on two private planes at Istanbul's Ataturk airport last Tuesday, returning that same day to Riyadh.

It is claimed that one of the men was a forensics expert, while others were part of the military or had close links to Saudi Arabia's ruling inner-circle.

Saudi Arabia has claimed the CCTV cameras were not working on Tuesday, to explain their inability to provide video evidence that Khashoggi left the consular building as they claimed he did.

"Although this incident could potentially fuel a political crisis between the two nations, let us not lose sight of the human aspect of what happened," Cengiz wrote.

She added that she remains confident that Khashoggi is still alive, however said that her "hope slowly fades away each passing day".

Khashoggi, who has penned articles critical of some of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies in the Arab and Western press, was a US resident who had been living in self-imposed exile in Washington.

Prince Mohammed, who has led an ambitious programme of modernisation in Saudi Arabia, has also led a far-reaching crackdown against opponents and critics.

Saudi Arabia has called the charge that it killed or kidnapped Khashoggi "baseless", but has provided no evidence that he left the consulate.

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