France verifying identity of man arrested over Khashoggi murder – Reuters

The Committee to Protect Journalists and other press freedom activists hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Saudi Embassy to mark the anniversary of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Wednesday evening in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/File Photo

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  • French police acted on Turkish arrest warrant
  • Saudi Embassy says person arrested “has nothing to do with case”

PARIS, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Checks are still under way to verify the identity of the Saudi man arrested at a Paris airport on Tuesday over suspected links to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

Attal said he was hoping the investigation would bring clarity as soon as possible, after a security source told Reuters the man arrested was a namesake and not the wanted man.

The security source said the case was expected to be dropped and the man released.

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French law enforcement sources on Tuesday named the man as Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, the same name as a former member of the Saudi Royal Guard listed in U.S. and British sanctions documents and a U.N.-commissioned report as having been involved in Khashoggi’s killing in Turkey. read more

The Saudi Embassy in Paris had said late on Tuesday the arrested person “has nothing to do with the case in question” and should be immediately released.

Attal told a news conference that the man was arrested because of an Interpol alert.

This took place, sources said, as he was about to board a flight from Paris to Riyadh.

One police source said the alert was triggered when the passport was scanned, because it was flagged by a Turkish arrest warrant as part of the Khashoggi murder probe. He was arrested because his passport, and not only his name, matched that of the warrant, the source said.

A 2019 U.N. investigation report said Al-Otaibi was a member of a 15-man Saudi team involved in killing Khashoggi after the journalist went to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document to allow him to marry his fiancee.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Turkish officials believe his body was dismembered and removed. His remains have not been found.

The clock is ticking, because French authorities have 48 hours from the moment the suspect was arrested – so until about 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Thursday – to verify who he is and either free him or take him before a prosecutor to notify him of the arrest warrant and take steps to detain him longer, a judicial source said.

In a separate deadline, if French authorities do consider he is the right suspect and keep him in detention, Turkey has a total of 40 days from the arrest to notify the French via diplomatic channels of a formal extradition request, a judicial source said. If the request is not made, he would be released.

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Reporting by Alain Acco and Tangi Salaun; Additional reporting by Ghada Ghantous, Aziz El Yaakoubi, Juliette Jabkhiro, Dominic Evans, Michel Rose; writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Philippa Fletcher, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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France verifying identity of man arrested over Khashoggi murder – Reuters

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