Saudis reject US ‘threats’ and pressure over ‘shocking’ death of journalist

Saudi Arabia rejects US ‘threats’ over the alleged killing in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, whose Apple Watch with a recording of the incident was retrieved by Turkish authorites, according to unverified reports.

By: Associated Press and World Israel News Staff

Saudi Arabia says it rejects any “threats” of economic sanctions or political pressure after President Donald Trump’s comments on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Sunday also warned that the kingdom will respond to any steps taken against it.

This statement, which came after the Saudi stock market plunged by nearly seven percent at one point on Sunday, did not directly acknowledge Khashoggi’s disappearance, which happened Oct. 2 when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The journalist had written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkish officials claimed to have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago, a pro-government Turkish newspaper reported Saturday.

The disappearance has put pressure on President Donald Trump, who has enjoyed close relations with the Saudis since entering office.

“Our first hope was that he was not killed but maybe that’s not looking too good from what we hear but there’s a lot to learn, there really is,” Trump said on Saturday at the White House while welcoming back American pastor Andrew Brunson, freed after nearly two years of detention in Turkey.

Turkish authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi’s iPhone and his iCloud account, the newspaper said. The journalist had given his phones to his fiancée before entering the consulate.

Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered. Saudi officials call the allegations “baseless” but have offered no evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

The shocking incident is likely a disappointment to the US and Israel.

In October 2017, after Trump’s historic visit to Riyadh, bin Salman, while meeting with Western journalists, sent a message to the Saudi people and the world that he was “leading a new vision” in Saudi Arabia. “We want to go back to the moderate Islam that is open to the world,” he declared. “We will destroy extremist ideas today.”

Trump announced $400 million in new deals after the visit.

In his address last month at the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the beginning of relations between Israel and several of its neighbors in the Arab world, most notably Saudi Arabia, due to the Iranian nuclear threat.