London, United Kingdom, Oct 21 – Saudi Arabia’s account of the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its Istanbul consulate is not credible and the culprits must be “held to account,” a British minister said on Sunday.
After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted Saturday that the Washington Post columnist, a prominent critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on October 2.
But it has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation that he died in a “brawl”, as world powers demand answers and the whereabouts of his body.
“I don’t think it’s credible,” Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC, adding there was a “serious question mark over the account that has been given”.
“We support the Turkish investigation into it, and the British government wants to see people held to account for that death.”
After initially saying Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, and then that they were investigating his disappearance, Saudi authorities conceded the 60-year-old was killed inside the diplomatic compound.
But many questions have remained unanswered since the admission.
Turkish officials have accused Riyadh of carrying out a state-sponsored killing and dismembering the body, with pro-government media in Turkey reporting the existence of video and audio evidence to back those claims.
Police have searched a forest in Istanbul where they believe his body may have been disposed of.
Ankara has vowed to reveal all the details of a two-week inquiry.
Raab called the case “terrible” but said the government was not ending its relationship with the conservative kingdom, which buys hundreds of millions of pounds in weapons from Britain each year.
Noting a “huge number of British jobs” depend on ties, he argued that British influence is best maintained by continuing to talk to the Saudis.
“We have got one of the most rigorous export regimes in the world which makes sure arms are very carefully monitored,” Raab added.
The stance echoes that of American President Donald Trump, who has warned against scrapping a multibillion-dollar US-Saudi arms deal.