A police source named the man Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, a former royal guard from Saudi Arabia. A forensic source confirmed the arrest and said authorities were verifying his identity. But a Saudi official said it was a case of mistaken identity, adding that those convicted of the crime are currently serving their sentences in Saudi Arabia.
The arrest came just days after French President Emmanuel Macron had face-to-face talks in Saudi Arabia with de facto Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, becoming the first major Western leader to visit the kingdom since the murder of Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a critic of Prince Mohammed, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Turkish authorities believe his body was dismembered and removed. His remains have not been found.
Suspect already on UK and US sanctions lists
Al-Otaibi is being held at the airport complex, police said. The Air Border Police have an office in a building near the airport terminal.
Al-Otaibi – who is mentioned on UK and US sanctions lists as implicated in Khashoggi’s murder – was also on a wanted list by France.
He was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by Turkey in 2019, a police source told Reuters. French prosecutors will now initiate proceedings there with a view to a possible extradition.
Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Hengiz tweeted that she welcomed the arrest of the suspected killer.
I welcome the arrest of one of Jamal’s killers today in #France. France should try him for his crime, or extradite him to a country capable and willing to genuinely investigate and prosecute him and the person who gave the order to assassinate Jamal. https://t.co/naqzfujCsp
A report from the UK Financial Sanctions Enforcement Office said that Al-Otaibi, which he also referred to as Altaibi, “was involved in the unlawful assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul on October 2 2018, as part of the 15-man team sent to Turkey by Saudi authorities. “
Al-Otaibi, born in 1988, “was involved in concealing evidence at the Saudi Consul General’s residence following the murder,” according to this report. A report from the US Treasury Department said: “The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were implicated in the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. “
A US intelligence report released in March said Prince Mohammed approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince and has rejected the report’s findings.
WATCH | US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the impact of the release of the intelligence report:
No extradition yet
France is one of Saudi Arabia’s main arms suppliers, but has come under pressure to review sales due to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen. , today one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Macron last week dismissed accusations he legitimized the crown prince, saying the region’s many crises cannot be addressed by ignoring Saudi Arabia.
The judicial source confirmed Al-Otaibi’s arrest on the basis of a Turkish arrest warrant. The authorities were in the process of verifying his identity. It was too early to say if and when an extradition could take place, the source said.
It was not known how or when Al-Otaibi arrived in France.
The French Interior Ministry and the Saudi Embassy in Paris declined to comment. The Saudi government media office CIC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.