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Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been murdered because he knew too much about the Saudi royal family, one of his friends has said. Political scientist Asiem El Difraoui said Khashoggi, who has not been seen since October 2, may have had inside knowledge about corruption, internal politics and links to extremism in the royal family. 

Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pictured in Switzerland in 2011, may have been murdered because he knew too much about the Saudi royal family, one of his friends has said

Turkey claims the columnist was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, with authorities in Istanbul reported to have obtained audio and video recordings of the alleged murder.

Khashoggi’s journalism was not a major threat to the Saudi government but his links to the country’s spy agency may have given him too much information, Mr El Difraoui told German newspaper Die Welt.

Mr El Difraoui said: ‘If he was murdered, I’d be surprised if his journalistic activities were the only reason.

‘The Saudis own half of the international Arabic media. As a journalist and activist Khashoggi may have been uncomfortable for them, but not a real threat.

‘But Khashoggi knew a lot. He was trusted with the most delicate issues in the kingdom and he was a member of the super-elite – he may have known too much.’

Asked for examples of what Khashoggi might have known about, he mentioned corruption, possible connections to extremism and ‘the internal disputes and wrongdoing of the royal house’.

Mr El Difraoui said first met Khashoggi around the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and he had remained a contact in the years since.

He said Khashoggi had met Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and tried to persuade the al-Qaeda leader to move away from militant activities.

Khashoggi had some sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing it as a more moderate and democratic form of Islamism, Mr El Difraoui said.

The UK, France and Germany today demanded a ‘complete and detailed response’ from Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘What they need to do is co-operate fully with the investigations that the Turks are asking us to do and to get to the bottom of this.

‘If, as they say, this terrible murder didn’t happen then where is Jamal Khashoggi? That is what the world wants to know.

‘If they have got nothing to hide then they will, and should, co-operate.’

US President Donald Trump has also threatened ‘severe punishment’ if authorities determine Saudi Arabia was behind Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Saudi government has dismissed the allegations against it as ‘baseless’.

A critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the US and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before he vanished.

He visited the consulate on October 2 to obtain a document confirming he had divorced his ex-wife, in order to allow him to remarry.

Turkish officials have said he was killed on the premises and his body removed.

The Daily Mail

UM– USEKE.RW

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