France Releases Saudi Man Mistaken for Khashoggi Killing Suspect
(Bloomberg) -- French authorities released a Saudi man held in connection with the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi after determining that he wasn’t the same person named in an international arrest warrant.
The man was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Tuesday because of a warrant issued by Turkish judicial authorities, prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement. He was released on Wednesday. Saudi officials had earlier said the arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
“Detailed verification of his identity allowed us to determine that the warrant doesn’t apply to him,” the prosecutor said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who had been living in exile in the U.S., was killed and dismembered inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, sparking an international outcry. A U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that the assassination had likely been ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, though he has denied involvement and said it was the work of rogue government agents.
French police arrested a man by the name of Khalid Alotaibi on Tuesday on suspicion he was a member of the team that killed Khashoggi, state-run Agence France Presse reported.
A United Nations report into the killing identified a royal guard member called Khalid Aedh Alotaibi as involved in the mission and said he had been “seen in the presence” of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince during a 2017 visit to the U.S. Khalid and Alotaibi are both very common names in Saudi Arabia.
The arrest came just days after French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Saudi Arabia, becoming the most senior European leader to visit Prince Mohammed since the murder.
France was among several countries to impose sanctions, including travel bans, on 18 Saudis believed to be linked to the killing of Khashoggi.
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