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Trump dismisses UN request for FBI probe into Khashoggi killing

The murder of US-based Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, shocked the world [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 23 June, 2019

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Trump dismissed the UN's recommendation that the FBI look into the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting that potential arms deals with Saudi Arabia take precedence.
United States President Donald Trump has brushed aside a UN proposal for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be properly investigated by the FBI, The Guardian reported.

A report on Khashoggi's assassination by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings published last week called on the FBI in the United States, where Khashoggi was a resident, to open an investigation into the case "and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate".

President Trump, in an interview broadcast by NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, dismissed the UN recommendation when asked, saying: "I think it’s been heavily investigated."

When asked who exactly had investigated, Trump replied: "By everybody. I mean … I've seen so many different reports."

The president suggested an investigation might jeopardise potential weapons sales to close ally Saudi Arabia.

While Saudi Arabia is signed up for $14.5 billion in military purchases from the US, Trump claimed in the Sunday interview it could spend $400 billion to $450 billion "over a period of time".

US lawmakers, in criticism of Saudi's controversial military campaign in Yemen, voted to block arms sales to Riyadh on Thursday but Trump has promised to veto the measures taken by the Senate.

Trump defended his push for arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite the potential involvement in Khashoggi's death.

"I'm not like a fool that says, 'We don't want to do business with them,'" Trump said. "And by the way, if they don't do business with us, you know what they do? They'll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese."

Trump and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman spoke on the phone on Friday amid heightened tensions with Iran. Trump said Khashoggi's murder "really didn't come up" in the call.

'Credible evidence'

The UN report said there is "credible evidence" linking the Saudi Crown Prince to journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder and called for sanctions on the prince's foreign assets.

The conclusion was outlined in the Wednesday report by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard.

Callamard, an independent human rights expert who does not speak for the United Nations but reports her findings to it, called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to initiate an international criminal investigation into the case.

She stressed she had found no concrete evidence about who ordered the killing, but said "people directly implicated in the murder reported to him (the crown prince)".

Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir dimissed Callamard's report, insisting on Twitter it "contains clear contradictions and unfounded allegations, casting doubt on its credibility".

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Prince Mohammed, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiancee.

His dismembered body has not been found.

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of his fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents.

Callamard said probes by Saudi Arabia and Turkey "failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths".

Agencies contributed to this report.

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