Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. He hasn’t been seen in public since.
Most of the news outlets that had agreed to sponsor the Saudi Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh later this month — known as “Davos in the desert” and hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known colloquially as MBS — have now pulled out.
They include Japanese media company Nikkei, CNBC, the New York Times and the Financial Times. Bloomberg said Friday it was pulling out as a media partner, but added that it still planned to cover news from the conference
However, IMF chief Christine Lagarde told reporters at the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday that she still planned to go to the Riyadh summit.
“Horrifying things have been reported” following Khashoggi’s disappearance, she said, but she had “to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners of the world, and with many governments.”
Lagarde said she always spoke her mind when visiting a country and that she would be paying close attention to developments in the case.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, speaking to the BBC at the IMF meeting, called for the “truth to be clear.”
“We need to know exactly who is responsible and of course, when we see the multiplication of this kind of situation I think we need to find ways in which accountability is also demanded,” he said.
US President Donald Trump said Friday he had not yet spoken with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s reported killing, but that he plans to “pretty soon.”
Saudi government denies ordering killing
Saudi Arabia firmly denies any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and says he left the consulate that afternoon.
His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge. Turkey has called on Saudi officials to provide evidence that he left the consulate, as they claim.
Saudi Arabia Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz said reports that the Saudi government ordered the killing of Khashoggi are “lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom,” according to a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published early Saturday.
Abdulaziz also said “some media” have circulated “false accusations” regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Source: Turkey has ‘shocking’ evidence of Khashoggi’s death
On Friday, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that showed Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate. But it was unclear how Turkish authorities obtained the evidence.
The evidence, which was described to the source by a Western intelligence agency, showed there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate. There is also evidence of the moment that Khashoggi was killed, the source said.
The foreign intelligence service found the nature of the evidence, which was provided in a briefing from Turkish officials, to be “shocking and disgusting,” the source told CNN.
A delegation from Saudi Arabia has arrived in Turkey for the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Friday.
A Saudi official said that he “welcomed” an announcement by the Turkish President to form a joint team of experts from both countries to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance,” according to a Saudi Information Ministry statement.
Turkish newspaper Sabah reported early Saturday that Khashoggi may have recorded his own death through his Apple Watch, and that security forces leading the investigation found the audio file inside the phone Khashoggi left with his fiancé.
CNN could not independently verify the Sabah report and was seeking comment from both Saudi and Turkish officials.
CNN intelligence and security analyst Robert Baer cast doubt on the claim, saying it was too far for a Bluetooth connection and that Khashoggi was unlikely to have anticipated transmitting a recording in advance. “I think what’s happened, clearly, is the Turks have the Saudi consulate wired, they have transmitters,” he said.
“The Turks don’t trust any diplomats, and they have been into most embassies and most consulates in Turkey and they listen to what’s going on — and if indeed there are tapes proving that he was murdered, I think that’s probably how they know. But the Turks are very reluctant to admit that.”
Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. Nic Robertson, Tim Lister, Hadas Gold, Samuel Burke, Gul Tuysuz and Mahatir Pasha contributed to this report.