By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected on Monday the explanation by Saudi Arabia of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
He said the reports about Khashoggi’s death, if they prove true, “are not compatible with our values.”
Khashoggi, a columnist for Washington Post, went missing on Oct. 2 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
After days of denying to know his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia last week claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
A joint Turkish-Saudi team completed an investigation into the case on Thursday after searching the residence of the consul general as well as the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
“We have an important strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia involving defence and security co-operation which has saved lives on the streets of Britain,” Hunt said.
“We also have a trading partnership that supports thousands of jobs.
“So, whilst we will be thoughtful and considerate in our response, I have also been clear that if the appalling stories we are reading turn out to be true, they are fundamentally incompatible with our values and we will act accordingly.
“Indeed such reports are also incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s own stated goal of progress and renewal.
“That is why the extent to which Saudi Arabia is able to convince us that it remains committed to that progress will ultimately determine the response of the U.K. and its allies -- and we will continue to convey our strength of feeling on this issue to every level of the Saudi leadership.”
Hunt said the questions of "who authorised the dispatch of 15 officials from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul?", "when the Riyadh government first learned of Khashoggi’s death?", "why there was a delay in allowing investigators into the consulate?" and "why Khashoggi’s death was not disclosed until Oct. 19, some 17 days after it happened?" must be answered by the Saudi government.
“The actions Britain and our allies take will depend on two things: firstly the credibility of the final explanation given by Saudi Arabia, and secondly on our confidence that such an appalling episode cannot - and will not - be repeated,” Hunt added.
Labour party’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry called the killing a “disgraceful murder” and said the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman “takes his allies for fools,” mentioning some of the alleged crimes attributed to him.
“The government must wake up to the reality of who the crown prince really is,” Thornberry said, criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May for “rolling out the red carpet” for the prince.
Urging the U.K. government to use the Magnitsky powers for anyone involved in the murder, including those who ordered it, she asked for financial penalties on those responsible and the suspension of U.K.'s sales of arms to this country.
Earlier on Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking at the House of Commons, May urged the parliament to join her in the condemnation.
“We must get to the truth of what happened,” she said.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was pleased because the prime minister had condemned the “horrific murder” of Khashoggi urging a suspension of arms sales to this country.