A former member of the Saudi Royal Guard has been arrested in France on Tuesday on an Interpol warrant, over his suspected role in the high-profile murder in 2018 of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, France’s RTL Radio reported.
The 33-year-old man, identified as Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris on Tuesday morning as he was about to board a flight to Riyadh, French media said, citing sources.
He is suspected of being a member of the commando squad that assassinated Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Shocking reports with alleged details of the murder suggested that the journalist’s body was dismembered using a bone saw, and then dissolved in acid.
Al-Otaibi is one of 20 Saudis wanted by Interpol over their links to the grisly murder. Turkey had issued a warrant for his arrest and requested Interpol assistance. The former elite guard was traveling under his real name and had his real passport with him, according to RTL. It is unclear how he’d managed to arrive in France undetected.
The Saudi man, who has been placed in detention while the French authorities are verifying his identity, will reportedly be “subject to extradition” to Turkey, a judicial source told the French broadcaster. The Paris public prosecutor’s office is expected to notify the suspect of his arrest warrant by Wednesday morning.
According to the radio station, the man can either agree to the arrest warrant and be extradited right away or challenge it. An extradition process would then be opened in France.
The news came just days after France’s President Emmanuel Macron met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to the UAE. The crown prince has been accused by some western media and officials of being behind the assassination. The US intelligence concluded its February report that bin Salman allegedly approved an operation to capture or kill the journalist, who was critical of the Saudi policies.
Riyadh has denied that the crown prince had anything to do with the murder. A Saudi trial into the murder was conducted in secret, and sentenced five people to death. The sentences were later commuted, said to be replaced with 20-year jail terms after the journalist’s family asked for pardon. Khashoggi’s fiancée has remained unsatisfied with the trial, calling it a “mockery of justice.”