UK warns of ‘consequences’ if Saudis killed journalist Khashoggi

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt prepares to pose for a family photograph with other European Foreign Ministers at Chevening House, near Sevenoaks, south of London on October 14, 2018. (AFP photo)

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt has warned there would be “consequences” if Saudi authorities were found to have been involved in the assassination of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I cannot speculate what we would do until we have the details, but if the stories that we read are true, then of course it will [have consequences],” Hunt told BBC Radio on Friday.

“Part of our reaction will depend on the Saudi reaction, and whether we sense that they are taking it as seriously as we are taking it,” he added.

Hunt acknowledged that Britain has strategic ties with Saudi Arabia and then said, “They share intelligence with us that keeps people on the streets safe. But, in the end, if the stories are true, we have to be absolutely clear, it would not be consistent with our values.”

Khashoggi, who was also a US green card holder, entered the Saudi mission on October 2 in order to obtain the necessary paperwork for marrying his fiancée. That was the last time he was seen.

According to The Washington Post, to which Khashoggi was a contributor, US intelligence intercepts already prove that he was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents in a hit job directly ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi rulers are weighing blaming a top intelligence official close to the crown prince for the assassination, three people with knowledge of the Saudi plan said Thursday, according to The New York Times.

The blame will be assigned to General Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, but American intelligence agencies are increasingly convinced that bin Salman was behind Khashoggi’s murder.

Turkish officials say they are in possession of audio and video recordings that prove the murder and incriminate Saudi diplomats.

First leaked details of the audio recordings picture a gruesome scene where Khashoggi is tortured, killed and dismembered by a Saudi assassination squad in cold blood.

The British government announced on Thursday that Trade Secretary Liam Fox would not attend the upcoming Future Investment Initiative conference which would be hosted by the Saudi crown prince, saying that London is “very concerned” about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The government said that Fox decided “the time is not right for him to attend” the conference in Riyadh.

“We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced. Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account,” the spokesperson said.

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