President Trump calls for 'severe punishment' if Saudi Arabia killed US-journalist


President Donald Trump declared Friday the USA will uncover the truth about what happened to journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi, whose possible murder at Saudi hands after disappearing in Istanbul has captured worldwide attention. "We would be very upset and angry if that was the case".

"Could it be them?"

"We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment", Trump told CBS's "60 Minutes" program, according to an extract of an interview that was released on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia dismissed on Saturday accusations that Jamal Khashoggi was ordered murdered by a hit squad inside its Istanbul consulate as "lies and baseless allegations", as Riyadh and Ankara spar over the missing journalist's fate.

"There's something - you'll be surprised to hear me say that - there's something really awful and disgusting about that if that were the case, so we're going to have to see", said the U.S. president, who had previously attacked some media outlets in his own country as "enemy of the people".

At a White House event with US pastor Andrew Brunson, who arrived in Washington after being freed in Turkey, Trump said China and Russian Federation would be ready to swoop in and get the business.

"There's something, you'll be surprised to hear me say that, there's something really awful and disgusting about that if that was the case".

There is no evidence he left afterward, leading Turkish officials to say they believe he was killed.

Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says he will suspend his role as director in two tourism projects in Saudi Arabia while an investigation takes place.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he wanted to know the truth about what happened and said he feared similar "disappearances" would become a "new normal".

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'He said, "See you later my darling", and went in, ' she told the Associated Press.

"He'd given it to her as she waited outside the consulate, telling her who to call if he didn't come out of the building", the report said, adding all the conversations of the Saudi executioners were recorded in this file".

Turkish sources allege he was killed by a 15-strong team of Saudi agents.

Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get documents for his forthcoming marriage.

This time, however, it acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia was accused of killing Khashoggi. I don't want to lose an order like that.

CCTV VIA HURRIYET / ASSOCIATED PRESS A surveillance video obtained by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and made available on October 9 shows a man believed to be Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The journalist has had long-standing ties to the Saudi royal family, but has written critically of the current government and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi intelligence noticed the watch on Khashoggi's wrist "and tried to erase some files", the paper said.

Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

Turkish and foreign media who have been camped outside the consulate all week noticed the motorcade arriving on Friday but it had not been immediately clear who the Saudi personnel entering the consulate were.