Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Saturday said that the suspects in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be prosecuted in the kingdom.
At a security conference in Bahrain, Al-Jubeir accused the western media of “hysteria” in its coverage of the case. He said the kingdom was being blamed even before the probe into the case was complete, the BBC reported.
“This issue has become fairly hysterical. I think people have assigned blame on Saudi Arabia with such certainty before the investigation is complete.
“We have made it clear that we are going to have a full and transparent investigation, the results of which will be released.”
Al-Jubeir remarks came a day after Turkey said it wished to extradite 18 Saudi nationals authorities say were involved in the murder of the Washington Post contributor and Saudi government critic. Khashoggi was last seen alive entering the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey on October 2.
After weeks of providing conflicting accounts of what happened to Khashoggi, the kingdom last week said that he was killed “accidentally” in a fist fight at the consulate by “rogue” agents. However, it denies the ruling royal family’s involvement in the killing.
The kingdom had earlier dismissed five high-ranking officials — including Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service — and arrested 18 people in the case.
“On the issue of extradition, the individuals are Saudi nationals. They’re detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia, and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Jubeir said.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are not known to have an extradition treaty, the BBC said.
Before Al-Jubeir, US Defence Secretary James Mattis addressed the conference. He condemned Khashoggi’s killing as “intolerable” and called it a national security concern for nations in the Middle East.
“Such behaviour undermines stability in the Middle East at a time when the region needs it most,” he said.
Mattis reiterated US President Donald Trump’s vow to get to the bottom of what happened to the journalist.
Mattis said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be taking unspecified “additional measures” in response to the killing beyond the revocation of US visas for certain Saudi suspects.
He suggested Khashoggi’s murder threatened stability in the Middle East at a time when the region can’t afford it.
“When opposing voices can be heard within a political process adapted to each nation’s culture, one that permits peaceful opposition by giving voice and human rights to all, a nation becomes more secure,” Mattis said.
“When people can speak and be heard calling for peace and respect for all, the terrorist message of hatred and violence is not embraced. With our collective interests in peace and unwavering respect for human rights in mind, the murder of Khashoggi in a diplomatic facility must concern us all greatly.”
Mattis said the US’ respect for the Saudi people was undiminished, but added that “with our respect must come transparency and trust”, the report said.