French police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of involvement in the high profile murder case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, but Saudi officials claimed that they were holding the wrong man, reports NDTV.
Investigators were looking to confirm that the man carrying a passport in the name of Khalid Alotaibi was actually the suspect by the same name sought by Turkey and sanctioned by the US over the horrifying killing of Khashoggi that stirred a wave of global anger.
The Saudi embassy in Paris issued a statement late Tuesday claiming the man apprehended "has nothing to do with the case in question" and demanded for his immediate release.
A security source in Saudi Arabia further added that "Khaled Alotaibi" was a very common name in the Kingdom, and that the person, the French police thought they were holding was actually serving time in prison in Saudi Arabia along with "all the defendants in the case".
The French official said the suspect was being held on the basis of a Turkish arrest warrant. He requested not being named in accordance with the French justice system's customary practices.
French radio RTL said the Saudi national, Khalid Aedh Alotaibi, was arrested at the Roissy airport near Paris as he was trying to board a flight to Riyadh.
Alotaibi was one of over a dozen Saudi officials sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2018 over Khashoggi's killing and dismemberment at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
He was also mentioned in the declassified U.S. intelligence report that said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had "approved" the operation that killed Khashoggi. The report used an alternate English transliteration of his last name.
How did Jamal Khashoggi die?
The death of Saudi Arabian author and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi had sent shockwaves through the world. Having entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2018 to obtain some document for his upcoming marriage, he appeared to vanish from within the building. As reports began speculating that he had been killed in a rather gruesome manner, Khashoggi was declared missing.
Since then, there have been numerous allegations about the involvement of Saudi authorities in the writer's death. In 2020, his fiancée Hatice Cengiz even sued Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for allegedly ordering the killing - something he has denied.
But even as the role of the royal was being debated, Saudi Arabia in 2019 sentenced five to death for their roles in the gruesome murder. Three others faced a total of 24 years in prison. Later, in 2020 this sentence was commuted after the slain writer's family pardoned the individuals facing the death penalty.
There were several theories for how Khashoggi had died - from dismemberment to strangulation to drug injections. And in the absense of a body, the claims continue to persist. While Saudi officials insisted that a team of agents sent to persuade him to return to the country had gone rogue and murdered him, Turkish officials insisted that the orders had come from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
With Agency Inputs
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