Updated: France arrests, then releases, alleged assassin of Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal KhashoggiAN ALLEGED MEMBER OF the assassin squad that killed and dismembered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018, is reportedly under arrest in France, where he was caught trying to board an international flight. Khashoggi, 59, was a Saudi government adviser who became critical of the Kingdom’s style of governance. He moved to the United States and began criticizing Saudi Arabia from the pages of The Washington Post. He was killed on October 2, 2018, by a 15-member Saudi hit squad while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He had gone there to be issued a certificate of divorce from his former wife in Saudi Arabia.

After several weeks of vehemently denying any role in Khashoggi’s killing, the Saudi government eventually admitted that the journalist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. One of Khashoggi’s alleged killers is Khaled Aedh Alotaibi (or al-Otaibi), a 33-year-old member of the Saudi Royal Guard Regiment, whose mission is to protect the Saudi royal family. Alotaibi has been barred from entering several Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. But Saudi Arabia has rejected a request by Turkey to extradite him to face charges in a Turkish court. The oil kingdom argues that Alotaibi was not among a group of “rogue” intelligence officers” who killed Khashoggi, and have since been punished under Saudi law.

Yesterday several French media outlets reported that Alotaibi had been arrested at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 9:30 am local time, as he was about to board a commercial flight to the Saudi capital Riyadh. He was apparently traveling under his real passport and not under an assumed identity. He has since been placed under judicial detention, while French authorities are trying to confirm that he is the same person who is wanted for the killing of Khashoggi. If this is confirmed, Alotaibi will be facing a preliminary hearing this week, and a French court will have to decide whether he will be extradited to Turkey.

In a statement published late on Tuesday, the Saudi embassy in France dismissed Alotaibi’s arrest as “a case of mistaken identity” and repeated the official Saudi government stance that all those who participated in Khashoggi’s murder have already faced justice in Saudi Arabia. It is worth noting that Alotaibi’s arrest occurred just days after French President Emmanuel Macron became the first major Western leader to openly meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed Mohammad Bin Salman. The de-facto ruler of the country is believed by many to have ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

Update: Early on Wednesday, French prosecutors said that the warrant issued by Turkey for the arrest of Alotaibi did not apply to the individual arrested on Tuesday. In a statement released to the press, the prosecutor’s office said: “Extensive checks on the identity of this person showed that the warrant did not apply to him. [Therefore] he was released”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 08 December 2021 | Permalink

One Response to Updated: France arrests, then releases, alleged assassin of Jamal Khashoggi

  1. Iconoclast XIII says:

    The details on this should be just fascinating–if/when available…

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