Saudi man mistaken for Khashoggi suspect was on holiday in France


PARIS (Reuters) -The Saudi nationwide arrested in Paris this week on suspicion of being concerned in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was only a vacationer who had been holidaying with a buddy in France, an official conversant in the investigation mentioned.

After his return to the dominion, the man gave an interview to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ekhbariya tv aired on Thursday.

“They put me in a room…, it had loads of glass like those used for criminals to watch them and there wasn’t good air flow,” mentioned the principle, dressed in an informal black sweater and a black cap. “Through the glass, they have been watching me as if I have been an animal in the zoo.”

The man, who was freed on Wednesday, was detained after his passport was scanned as he handed by means of immigration on the French capital’s major worldwide airport on his manner overseas. The official mentioned the man was travelling on a legitimate visa.

The man shared the identical nationality, given title and household title and 12 months of delivery as Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, a former member of the Saudi Royal Guard recognized in U.S. and British sanctions lists, and a U.N.-commissioned report, as being concerned in Khashoggi’s 2018 homicide.

But the detained man’s patronymic title was totally different from that of Al-Otaibi the suspect, who is needed by Turkey on a global arrest warrant. So too was his passport quantity, the official and a police supply mentioned.

The Turkish warrant acknowledged a 12 months of delivery however not the day and month, neither of which have been a match, the 2 sources mentioned.

However, the likeness was sufficient for the passport scan to alert border police of a possible identification match with a wished particular person.

Algorithms are used to attract collectively particulars in a passport and match in opposition to these detailed in warrants. If there’s a sure diploma of match, a system-issued notification lets border officers know additional checks are wanted, the police supply mentioned.


In the TV interview, the almost-namesake to the suspected Khashoggi killer mentioned that, at first, French authorities wouldn’t enable him to contact the Saudi embassy in Paris.

“I informed them I need to communicate to the embassy however they would not let me. I’ve the ambassador’s private quantity however they would not let me use my cellular,” he mentioned.

Eventually, the French officers allowed him to take an incoming name from the embassy, who informed him that his case was being dealt with, he added.

France’s inside ministry and the nationwide police drive declined to remark on the mistaken identification.

A declassified U.S. intelligence evaluation launched in February mentioned Saudi’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorised of the operation to seize or kill Khashoggi.

The Saudi authorities has denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejected the report’s findings.

Khashoggi, a journalist and critic of the prince, was final seen getting into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Turkish officers consider his physique was dismembered and eliminated. His stays haven’t been discovered.

(Additional reporting by Ghaida Ghantous; Writing by Tassilo Hummel; enhancing by Richard Lough and Andrew Heavens)

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