U.S. President Trump criticized Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”
Trump's comments on October 21 came as Britain, Germany, and France issued a joint statement condemning the Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, saying there is an "urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened."
On the same day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would make public on October 23 the "naked truth" about the killing of the dissident, who was last seen entering the consulate on October 2.
Riyadh's explanation that Khashoggi was killed involuntarily in a "fistfight" was met with international skepticism. Saudi Arabia said 18 Saudis were arrested and several top intelligence officials were fired.
In an interview with The Washington Post published on October 21, Trump said "their stories are all over the place," in his strongest comments to date.
But Trump defended Riyadh as an “incredible ally” and kept open the possibility that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto leader of the kingdom, did not order Saudi agents to kill Khashoggi.
Trump has repeatedly said that he opposes any effort to jeopardize more than $100 billion in U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but that he would consider sanctions on the kingdom.
Pro-government media in Turkey have reported that a Saudi hit squad of 15 people traveled to Turkey to kill the columnist for The Washington Post before leaving the country hours later in private jets.
"Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details," Erdogan said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Fox News on October 21 that Khashoggi's killing was "a rogue operation" and that "we don't know where the body is."
Britain, Germany, and France said the "hypotheses" proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.