Canada, France, UK, Germany demand answers on Khashoggi disappearance

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. The pressure is rising from Europeans allies.

Ottawa – Canada has timidly supported a joint statement by the big three in Europe – the UK, Germany and France – asking the Saudis to come clean on what happened to the missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

A joint statement by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany said light must be shed on Khashoggi who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Reports in major global media allege that Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, was murdered and dismembered on Oct. 2 by a special hit team flown in from Saudi Arabia. The reports say Turkish intelligence has audio and video of the murder.

Saudi Arabia has angrily denounced the reports and agreed to participate in a joint investigation with Turkish authorities. Saudis claim Khashoggi left the consulate but his girlfriend said she waited outside for him for 11 hours and he did not return.

“Defending freedom of expression and a free press and ensuring the protection of journalists are key priorities for Germany, the United Kingdom and France. In this spirit, light must be shed on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose family has lost contact with him since October 2nd,” the joint European statement said.

“Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness.

“There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and – if relevant – to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Kashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account.”

“We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities.

A day earlier, Canadian Prime Minister had expressed concern about the disappearance but defended the sale of light armoured vehicles saying it was a contract signed by the previous conservative government and the Liberals had toughened the deal.

Similarly, US President Donald Trump told CBS 60 minutes that Saudis would be punished if the allegations are proven but he’d not cancel a multibillion arms sale agreement signed when he visited Saudi Arabia on his first overseas trip.

On Sunday, Canada’s external affairs minister Chrystia Freeland offered support to the statement issued by UK,France and Germany by tweeting, “Canada strongly supports our allies on this important issue.”

She said nothing further than that, and instead included the European statement. The last time Canada spoke out on Twitter about women detained by the Saudis, the Arab nation retaliated by withdrawing students from Canada and stopping trade and downgrading diplomatic relations.

A Saudi statement rejected the allegations and said it would react to threats of punishment.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine them, whether by waving economic sanctions, using political pressure, or repeating false accusations that will not undermine the Kingdom and its staunch positions and Arab, Islamic and international stances,” said a statement in Arabic. (Google translation.)

“The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”

Saudi Arabia said responding to rumours has nothing to do with the search for truth.

Watch Al Jazeera below to understand the allegations.