Saudi Arabian foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir defended the crown prince and leader of his country, Mohammed bin Salman, by claiming that people’s reaction to Saudi defector and journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death has been “fairly hysterical,” according to the New York Post.
Khashoggi, who relocated to the United States in June 2017 after he was barred by Saudi Arabia from making public appearances because of his criticism of Donald Trump, disappeared earlier this month from Istanbul’s Saudi consulate where he went to collect some paperwork. The following weeks have seen numerous reports emerging from Turkey and international media alleging that the Middle Eastern nation killed Khashoggi in a planned attack at the consulate, a claim Saudi Arabia contests. Even though it admits that the journalist was killed by Saudi Arabian agents, the Middle Eastern nation is keen to paint the murder as a rogue incident by higher-ranked officials.
Now Saudi Arabia, which has been criticized by foreign leaders as well as international media, has hit back through its foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who claims the world’s reaction to Khashoggi’s death has been over-the-top.
“This issue has become fairly hysterical. I think people have assigned blame on Saudi Arabia with such certainty before the investigation is complete.”
Saudi Arabia pins the blame for the death of the journalist on 18 Saudi nationals, but al-Jubeir rejected demands by Turkey to extradite those who were involved. Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that the trials of the men involved must take place in Turkey because the murder took place there, but the Middle Eastern nation appeared in no mood to concede.
“The individuals are Saudi nationals. They’re detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia, and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a regional defense forum in Bahrain, reports Al Jazeera.
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Claiming that six officials working directly under Mohammed bin Salman had been dismissed, al-Jubeir said his country was taking appropriate action in response to Khashoggi’s murder.
“We’re trying to uncover what happened,” al-Jubeir said. “We know that a mistake was committed. We know that people exceeded their authority and we know that we’re investigating them.”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister also dismissed suggestions about his country’s relationship with the United States suffering in the wake of Khashoggi’s killing, saying the two countries remained firm allies and that their relationship was, in fact, “ironclad.”
Donald Trump has changed his stance since he first called the Saudi explanation “credible” in the immediate aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder, with the American president calling the Saudi plan the “worst in the history of cover-ups” last week.