A man from Saudi Arabia who has been linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was detained at a Paris airport earlier on Tuesday.
The man, who stands accused of being a member of the hit squad that killed Khashoggi was apprehended while he was attempting to board a flight to Riyadh, according to reports on French media.
The 33-year-old man was taken into custody at Charles de Gaulle Airport before his flight at 9:30 AM local time. He was traveling using his own passport, a French National Police spokesperson told CNN.
Khashoggi murder in Istanbul consulate rocked the world
The man, identified as Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi by French radio station RTL, was then placed in judicial detention. French police would not confirm the man’s identity to CNN. James Andre a senior reporter for the French news channel France 24, stated that he had learned that Al-Otaibi had been in France for some time and it was officials from the nation of Turkey that tipped off Interpol and French officials with the news that he was there.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who worked as a columnist for the Washington Post, had been critical of the nation of Saudi Arabia and the policies promulgated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and allegedly killed and dismembered there, by individuals who had close ties to the highest levels of the Saudi government and bin Salman, CNN says.
Al-Otaibi had been one of sixteen men banned from entering the United States in April of 2019 for what the US State Department charged were “their roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
The British government also placed Al-Otaibi under sanctions in July of 2020, alleging that “he was involved in the unlawful killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul … as part of the 15 man team sent to Turkey by Saudi authorities. He was involved in the concealment of evidence at the Saudi General Consul’s residence following the killing.”
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 able and willing to genuinely investigate and prosecute him as well as the person who gave the order to murder Jamal. https://t.co/naqzfujCsp
— Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) December 7, 2021
If the man indeed turns out to be Al-Otaibi, he will have a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, an official from the Paris court of appeals told reporters from CNN. The court itself would not confirm who the man was, however.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s former fiancee, stated that she “welcomed” the arrest of the man in a Tweet on Tuesday, stating that France should either try him in a court of law “or extradite him to a country able and willing to genuinely investigate and prosecute him as well as the person who gave the order to murder Jamal.”
According to a report issued by US intelligence back in February of 2021, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman himself approved the operation designed to capture or kill the journalist.
The intelligence report also said bin Salman had “absolute control” of intelligence organizations and in Saudi Arabia. At the time, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry stated that it “completely rejected” the US report.
The Saudi Embassy in Paris also had “nothing to say” on the events of Tuesday, an embassy spokesperson told CNN.