Putin believes U.S. 'bears a certain responsibility' in disappearance of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi
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Russia President Vladimir Putin, who barely bats an eye when critics of the Kremlin are killed overseas, said Thursday that the U.S. “bears a certain responsibility” for the disappearance of writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Putin, speaking at a policy forum in Sochi, took the swipe at the U.S. while saying he would wait for a full investigation into the Saudi Arabian writer’s suspected death before deciding what impact it would have on relations between Russia and the Saudi kingdom.
Khashoggi, 60, had been living in self-imposed exile in America before he went missing two weeks ago in Turkey. The outspoken Saudi critic was last seen entering his home country’s consulate in Istanbul, where Turkish authorities believe he was dismembered and murdered.
“He lived in the United States of America..and in this sense, of course, the United States bears some responsibility for what happened to him,” Putin said.
Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have repeatedly denied knowing what happened to Khashoggi.
Putin, echoing President Trump’s backing of the Saudi account, said “those who believe that there was a murder must present evidence.”
Turkish officials say there is audio of Khashoggi’s gruesom final moments. They say a team of Saudi agents flew to Turkey and killed the Washington Post columnist on Oct. 2 before cutting up his body.
Putin noted that “the disappearance was a tragedy, but we need to understand what happened” before deciding what impact it may have on Russia’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
Several experts flagged the similarities between Khashoggi’s suspected death and the frequent fate met by Russian dissidents.
“Oh Good God. #Saudi is pulling a #Putin,” Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, tweeted last week.
A number of prominent Putin opponents, including journalists, have been killed or injured in suspicious circumstances, both at home and abroad.
A former Russian spy and his daughter were injured when a nerve agent was used to attack them in London in July. The U.S. and several other countries imposed sanctions against Russia after British authorities determined the Kremlin was behind the attack.
British prosecutors charged two suspects believed to be Russian intelligence agents in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm.
Putin brushed off the charges, calling the two men “civilians” and denying that the Kremlin had anything to do with the attacks.
In August, a trio of Russia journalists working on a project funded by anti-Putin campaigner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, were shot to death in Central African Republic while investigating the Wagner Group, a shadowy Kremlin-linked firm of private military contractors.
In 2015, Mikhail Lesin, who founded the state-funded Russian news channel RT, was was found dead in his Washington hotel room. Police concluded he died from a series of drunken falls, but critics questioned the death.
Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko faked his own back in May with the help of Ukrainian authorities in an attempt to expose Russian security services trying to take his life.
“This is not an isolated incident… (it’s) a crisis,” Robert Maloney, the deputy director Committee to Protect Journalists, said Thursday during a press conference at the United Nations. ___
This article is written by Denis Slattery from New York Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.