U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday “rogue killers” may have been behind the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi، and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered an internal investigation into the case، according to Reuters.
Trump said he had spoken with King Salman about Khashoggi، a critic of Saudi policies، and that he was sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately to meet the king and travel to other places as needed.
Khashoggi، a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist، vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago to get marriage documents. Turkish officials have said authorities believe he was murdered there and his body removed.
Saudi Arabia has strongly denied killing Khashoggi and denounced such assertions as “lies”، saying he left the building shortly after entering.
“The king firmly denied any knowledge of it،” Trump told reporters. “He didn’t really know، maybe - I don’t want to get into his mind but it sounded to me - maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”
A Turkish official and a security source told Reuters on Monday that the authorities have an audio recording indicating that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate، without providing further details.
The official said evidence was being shared with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The case has provoked an international outcry، with Trump threatening “severe punishment” if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and European allies urging “a credible investigation” and accountability for those responsible.