U.S. ramps up pressure on Saudis over missing journalist

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz

The US and the United Kingdom have both called on the Saudi government to step up its investigation into the disappearance.

"I don't like stopping massive amounts of money that's been pouring into our country". He warned that the Saudis could instead buy from Russian Federation or China.

Reports about the USA appointing investigator over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi are untrue, said Turkish diplomatic sources on Thursday.

Turkish, US and British intelligence sources have told press, privately, that Khashoggi was likely murdered at the consulate at the request of the Saudi leadership.

Earlier, security sources told TRT World one of the men was Salah Muhammed al Tubaigy who heads a "Forensic Evidence Unit" in Saudi Arabia's "General Security Directorate".

One former intelligence official speculated the mysterious 15-member team sent from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance meant to conduct a "rendition" operation and spirit him back to Saudi territory, but something may have gone wrong and resulted in Khashoggi's death.

Social media sleuths identified another man from the squad as a senior crimes scene investigator in Saudi Arabia.

"We're demanding everything", Trump told reporters. He did not elaborate. "We're looking at it very, very seriously".

Meanwhile, there was a clear and growing disconnect between many in Congress, who want tougher action, and the president.

Trump declined to say whom he talked with in the Saudi government.

Khashoggi hasn't been seen or heard from since entering the consulate last week.

According to one friend, Khashoggi told him "I don't trust them one bit" after a conversation with one such official.

He further stressed that he wants to end arms exports if there's "any indication" the Saudis are "implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them". "Part of that may be that they have an incredibly close relationship with the administration".

A total of 25 to 30 professional and non-professional journalists are now believed to be detained in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the organisation also said. The fallout could reshape alliances in the region, where the U.S.is seeking to stabilize Syria, contain Iranian weapon development and support a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen's civil war.

Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt's show that the United States would send Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to the consulate to investigate if the Saudis requested it.

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he has suspended his role on the board of Saudi Arabia's planned mega city NEOM until more is known about Khashoggi. It relies on Saudi support for its Middle East effort to counter Iranian influence and fight extremism.

Those associations could become a political liability if Prince Mohammed is implicated in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would seek punitive economic sanctions against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other officials in the kingdom if a formal United States investigation shows they were involved in killing Jamal Khashoggi. Asked about a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence had intercepted top Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi, Trump told Fox, "It would be a very sad thing". Khashoggi has been a contributor to the Post's Global Opinions section. According to some reports, Ankara is considering the options of recalling its ambassador from Riyadh and expelling the Saudi envoy if the Saudis fail to provide a satisfactory explanation on Khashoggi's fate "within several days".

"He said: 'Are you kidding? I don't trust him for a minute'".

Earlier, the Washington Post reported that USA intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi.

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