Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi authorities say man detained in Paris has “nothing to do” with murder of Jamal Khashoggi
The 33-year-old was arrested at Charles de Gaulle Airport before his flight at 9:30 a.m. local time and was traveling under a real passport, a spokesperson for the French national police told CNN. He was placed in judicial detention, added the spokesperson.
The suspect had been identified as Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, RTL radio reported, citing French police and judicial sources. French police did not want to confirm the man’s identity to CNN.
However, a senior Saudi official told CNN that the detention was “considered a case of mistaken identity.”
On Tuesday evening, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in France issued a statement claiming that media reports were “incorrect” and that “the person who was arrested has nothing to do with the case in question.”
The embassy said it expected the “immediate release” of the Saudi citizen. He added that “Saudi justice has delivered verdicts against all those who participated in the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi, all are currently serving their sentences,” in a statement posted on Twitter.
Al-Otaibi was one of 16 people banned from the United States by the State Department in April 2019 for “their role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi”.
Likewise, the British government placed Al-Otaibi under sanctions in July 2020. The British government said “he was involved in the unlawful assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul … as part of the 15-man squad sent in. in Turkey by the Saudi authorities. He was involved in the withholding of evidence at the Saudi Consul General’s residence after the murder. “
If the suspect’s identity is confirmed as Al-Otaibi, he would risk arrest and a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Paris appeals court told CNN – potential first steps towards extradition. The court did not confirm the man’s identity.
Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée Hatice Cengiz told CNN in a statement that the arrest could be “a very important first step for the justice of Jamal” and urged the justice “to be allowed to run its course”.
“Those who executed the plan must not be used to protect those who, much higher, gave the order to brutally kill Jamal,” Cengiz added.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry “completely rejected” the report.
There has been no official reaction from the Turkish authorities regarding the detention of the Saudi national by French police.
From Joseph Ataman and Pierre Bairin of CNN in Paris; Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul. Nic Robertson, Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report