U.S. President Donald Trump said in a CBS interview on Saturday that there would be “severe punishment” for Saudi Arabia if it turns out that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and legal resident of the United States, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the consulate.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment,” Trump said.
Asked whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an order to kill him, Trump said “nobody knows yet, but we’ll probably be able to find out.”
Trump added in excerpts of the “60 Minutes” interview that will air on Sunday “we would be very upset and angry if that were the case”.
Trump said that there was much at stake with Khashoggi case, “maybe especially so” because he was a reporter.
But Trump signaled that cutting off U.S. military sales to the kingdom may not be an option, saying, “I don’t want to hurt jobs.”
Turkish sources have told Reuters the initial assessment of the police was that Khashoggi was deliberately killed inside the consulate.
Saudi Arabia denied allegations regarding the murder of Khashoggi, late on Friday.
The Saudi Interior Minister said that allegations about orders to murder Khashoggi were “lies” targeting the government, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. Saudi officials have said that he left shortly afterwards but Turkish officials and his fiance, who was waiting outside, have said that he never came out.