Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has called on Saudi Arabia to “shed full clarity” on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist of Saudi origin.
“The EU took note of the announcement by Saudi authorities on 15 November on the latest developments in their investigation, yet the need remains to shed full clarity on the circumstances surrounding this horrendous crime as well as to ensure accountability for all those responsible for it,” Mogherini’s statement on behalf of the EU read.
Mogherini’s declaration, backed by the union’s 28 foreign ministers, also opposed calls to sentence the five suspects in the case to death:
“It is the longstanding position of the European Union to oppose death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances,” she said, adding that it was essential to ensure judicial “due process” so that “something like this can never happen again”.
The declaration came amid reports by The Washington Post that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had named Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the person who had ordered the killing of the journalist.
Riyadh has consistently denied the royal family’s involvement in the case, with a spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, denouncing the newspaper’s report as “false.”
"We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations," spokesperson Fatimah Beshen said.
Commenting on the claims earlier in the day, President Donald Trump stressed that the CIA hadn’t “assessed anything yet” because it was “too early,” and announced that he would receive a full report on Khashoggi’s killing within the next two days – 19 or 20 November.
The US president previously refused to speculate on claims of the prince’s alleged involvement in the killing:
“As of this moment we were told that he did not play a role. We’re going to have to find out what they have to say”.
Addressing the media claims on Saturday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Washington had not come to a final conclusion in the case, and that media reports were “inaccurate”:
”The United States government is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable. Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate. There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts,” she said.
Saudi authorities have described the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as a “rogue operation” and detained 21 suspects, having charged 11 of them and demanded the death penalty for five of the accused.
The journalist disappeared on 2 October after entering the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul to fetch documents he needed to remarry. Amid mounting media speculation that Khashoggi could have been murdered inside the consular premises and searches of the building by Turkish police, Riyadh confirmed his death.
Saudi authorities acknowledged that The Washington Post columnist died in an altercation with people who met him inside, while the Istanbul prosecutor claimed that his corpse was dismembered and destroyed after being strangled to death.