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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Man Arrested in France in Connection with Saudi Journalist Killing is Released on Mistaken Identity

By VOA News December 08, 2021

A man who was arrested Tuesday at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in connection with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been released from custody because of mistaken identity, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Khashoggi, who self-exiled in the United States, was strangled inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 before his body was dismembered. He was a columnist at The Washington Post and a critic of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

French police identified the person shortly after his arrest as Khaled Aedh al-Otaibi, a former Royal Guard of Saudi Arabia who was on a French wanted list. Police said he was arrested because Turkey had issued an international arrest warrant for him in 2019.

A person with the same name was sanctioned by the British government, which said in a sanctions report that "he was involved in the unlawful killing of Jamal Khashoggi ... as part of the 15-man team sent to Turkey by Saudi authorities."

But prosecutors said in a statement late Tuesday that Turkey's warrant, which triggered the person's arrest during a passport check at the airport, did not apply to him.

"In-depth verifications to determine the identity of this person have enabled us to establish that the warrant was not applicable to him," the statement said.

The Saudi Embassy in Paris said late Tuesday the detainee "had nothing to do with the case in question."

Twenty-six Saudis are facing Turkish charges for the killing in a trial that began in October 2020.

A U.S. intelligence report released in March said Crown Prince Mohammed authorized the plan to murder or capture Khashoggi and that a 15-member team was involved in his murder.

The Saudi government has rejected the report's findings and denied any involvement by the crown prince.

Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press, and Reuters.

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