A man suspected of being a member of the hit squad that murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018 was arrested at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on Tuesday, according to AP.
The latest: French officials said they are still working to confirm the identity of the man authorities arrested, the New York Times reports.
- A Saudi official claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, telling the Times that “reports suggesting that a person who was implicated in the crime against Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi has been arrested in France are false.”
- Axios has reached out for comment from French police, Saudi officials and the Turkish Embassy in France.
Why it matters: Khalid Aedh Al-Otaibi — who is one of several people sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries over Khashoggi’s murder — was trying to board a flight to Riyadh and is now being held on an arrest warrant from Turkey, AP reports, citing a French judicial official.
- The U.S. and the U.K. said Al-Otaibi was a Saudi government official and a member of the Saudi Royal Guard. French officials said Al-Otaibi was traveling through the country under his own name.
Background: Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post journalist and a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives waiting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, according to a U.S. report.
- Khashoggi’s murder fueled massive outrage against Saudi Arabia and fractured its relationship with the U.S., Turkey and other countries.
- The U.S. report, released earlier this year, implicated MBS in the murder, assessing that he ordered the Saudi operatives, most of whom were governmental officials, to “capture or kill” Khashoggi.
The big picture: The Turkish government issued arrest warrants for at least 26 Saudis over the killing, though Saudi Arabia refused to extradite them and has tried and sentenced many of them itself, according to the BBC.
- The United Nations and human rights organizations have criticized the trials, saying Saudi judicial officials were are far too lenient during sentencing.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information and comment given to the New York Times from a Saudi official.