The US threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if its involvement is proven in the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as Saudi Arabia continues to deny its responsibility towards the incident.
US president Donald Trump said in an interview with CBS that his country would apply “severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia is found responsible behind the journalist’s disappearance, adding that the case is yet being investigated.
This came while Saudi Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud denied allegations regarding the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Friday.
The minister said that the circulated media reports accusing the Saudi government of murdering Khashoggi are “false and represent an attack against the Saudi government and its people,” adding that his country will cooperate with Turkey in the investigation by all means.
On Thursday, a Saudi delegation arrived in Ankara to investigate the disappearance of the journalist in cooperation with Turkish sides, after they agreed to form a joint working investigation group.
Trump previously said that the US will assist Turkey in its investigation over the incident.
Khashoggi, who is a columnist at the Washington Post, disappeared in Turkey after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to receive his marriage documents and never came out, according to media reports.
A Few days following his disappearance, Turkish officials said that they believe that Khashoggi had been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and that there are audio recordings and a photograph proving this.
Saudi Arabia denied the murder allegations, asserting that the journalist disappeared after leaving the consulate building.
The Washington Post quoted some US and Turkish officials saying that the recordings included evidence that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi upon his arrival to the consulate headquarters, and then killed him.
Last week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged Saudi officials to prove that journalist Khashoggi had left the Istanbul consulate and that he is personally following the case
Before travelling to self-exile in the US in 2017, Khashoggi, 60, was a Saudi royalist who was close to members of the ruling family and worked as a media advisor for some of them. However, during the recent months, he showed some criticism for Saudi policies.
He has beeing working worked for over thirty years in journalism as he covered several conflicts and was one of the first who interviewed the late leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.