An Argentine judge who has been reviewing a complaint by Human Rights Watch (HRW) against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his involvement in the war in Yemen asked Argentine’s foreign ministry to seek Turkey and the International Criminal Court for information on any open cases relating to the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi or Yemen war crimes, the judge’s office was quoted by Reuters news agency as having said.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate’s building in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.
Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, HRW asked the judge to use a war crimes clause in its constitution to investigate any involvement by the crown prince in possible crimes against humanity in Yemen and Khashoggi’s murder, the report stated.
According to the report, the office of federal judge Ariel Lijo said on Wednesday it was seeking information on any open cases relating to the murder of Khashoggi or war crimes in Yemen.
A representative of the federal prosecutor’s office that is working with Judge Lijo on the complaint was quoted by Reuters as having said that it was still reviewing HRW’s request and that no decision had yet been made on whether to investigate it.
Meanwhile, a spokesman of the CIA agency stated that the White House did not block CIA Director Gina Haspel from participating in a briefing on Wednesday for the US Senate about the war in Yemen and US relations with Saudi Arabia.
“The notion that anyone told Director Haspel not to attend today’s briefing is false,” agency spokesman Timothy Barrett said in a statement.
Moreover, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham threatened to oppose key legislation until the Senate is briefed by the CIA on the killing of Khashoggi.
Senators were briefed on Khashoggi’s death Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. But Graham said the briefing was “inadequate” without the CIA speaking directly about the intelligence it has on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the killing.
Graham said he’s willing to hold up the legislative agenda, including legislation to fund the government, until he hears from the agency.
He told reporters, “Anything that you need me for to get out of town, I ain’t doing it until we hear from the CIA.”
Asked whether he had communicated that to President Donald Trump, Graham answered: “I just did.”
US Defense Secretary James Mattis had said on Wednesday the United States has “no smoking gun” that MBS was involved in the killing of Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.
Asked about reports that a CIA assessment earlier this month concluded the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi’s death, Mattis had referred reporters back to the intelligence agency.
“We have no smoking gun the crown prince was involved, not the intelligence community or anyone else. There is no smoking gun,” Mattis had told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the United States still expected those responsible for the killing to be held accountable.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said on Wednesday that downgrading US ties with Saudi Arabia would be a mistake for national security and would not push Saudis in a better direction at home.
“The October murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the U.S. and its allies,” Pompeo had written in a blog post shortly before he had testified before a Senate committee.