Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 19, 2019

Newsline: Consulate recordings reveal Saudi plan for Khashoggi murder

The UN report into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi reveals disturbing new details about what happened in the hours before he died, and the conversations that were taking place between Saudi officials who were involved in his killing. Relying on the transcripts of recordings provided by the Turkish authorities, the report describes how Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Turkey by appointment on 2 October last year, to obtain papers he needed to pave the way for his marriage to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. The report relies on recordings of conversations within the consulate in the days prior to his death, which show how a team of Saudi officials flew from Riyadh to Istanbul to kill him. Five came on a commercial flight, nine others on a private jet. One Saudi official asked whether it would “be possible to put the trunk in a bag”. Another replied: “No. Too heavy. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/19/consulate-recordings-reveal-saudi-plan-for-jamal-khashoggi) In the recordings, sounds of a struggle can be heard, the UN report says, and then voices saying: “Did he sleep? … Keep pushing … Push here. Don’t remove your hand. Push it.” The report adds: “The sound of plastic sheets (wrapping) could also be heard. Turkish intelligence concluded that these came after Mr Khashoggi’s death while the Saudi officials were dismembering his body.”

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Newsline: Muslim family dragged out of Belgian embassy in Beijing by Chinese police

A Muslim family was dragged out of the Belgian embassy in Beijing by Chinese police after Belgian officials allowed them to enter the building, it has emerged. A Belgian diplomat was expected to travel to China’s restive Xinjiang region on June 18 to try and confirm the whereabouts of the woman and her four children, who are members of the Uighur minority. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/18/muslim-family-dragged-belgian-embassy-beijing-chinese-police/) The woman’s husband, Adbulhamid Tursan, is a political refugee in Belgium. His wife, Horiyat Abula, and her four children travelled to Beijing at the end of May to complete missing paperwork for their family reunification visas. Mr Tursan said he had not heard from his family since May 31, a few days after they were extracted from the embassy after refusing to leave when they were told it would take at least three months for their visas to be approved. The embassy offered to escort the family back to their hotel, but they “refused to leave the embassy in a kind of sit-in”, a Belgian ministry spokesman said. In the end, Chinese police “escorted them away,”the spokesman said. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s foreign minister, said an embassy is not intended to “lodge people” applying for visas but added, “My only concern here is that we can reunite the family.”