German Chancellor Angela Merkel is leading the European leaders in putting pressure on Saudi Arabia to tell the truth regarding the death of the dissent journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi who was killed on 2 October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. “They still haven’t been cleared up and of course we demand that they be cleared up,” Chancellor Merkel said.
Angela Merkel described the event as “horrific” and said it was a warning that democratic freedoms are under assault across the world. While US President Donald Trump initially said that the Saudi explanation and admission that Mr. Khashoggi was killed at the consulate was “a good first step”, he later joined his European counterparts in calling for real answers. “We’d like to find out where it is and what happened … And I think we’re inching our way there,” he said. Saudi Arabia said that Mr. Khashoggi died following a “fist-fight” after he entered the building on 2 October. However, this version of events was disputed by Turkish authorities who suspect that the journalist was tortured and then murdered by a team of trained men who cut up his body and disposed of it.
Angela Merkel’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said that while the investigation was on-going, Germany would reassess its arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is one of the key buyers of German arms. The European Union commented that the emerging details of the Mr. Khashoggi’s death were “deeply troubling” and emphasized that a “continued thorough, credible and transparent investigation” was needed and should bring “proper clarity on the circumstances of the killing and ensuring full accountability of all those responsible for it.”