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UK MPs call for 'full and thorough' probe into Khashoggi disappearance

Letter to foreign secretary says case of missing journalist has 'serious implications for the future of Saudi Arabia'
UK has licensed more than $6.2bn in arms to the Saudi, including aircraft, bombs and missiles (AFP)

Several UK parliament members have called on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to open an investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a letter dated 11 October and obtained by MEE, the MPs write that Khashoggi's case has “serious implications for the future of Saudi Arabia and her relations with liberal democracies worldwide”.

"The UK must call for a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, and stand ready to support all authorities in their enquiries," it states.

MP Mark Menzies, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Saudi Arabia, is among 13 MPs who signed the letter.

A prominent Saudi journalist and columnist with the Washington Post, Khashoggi was last seen on 2 October, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and a Turkish source told MEE this week that the journalist was "dragged from [a] consulate office, killed and dismembered".

Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving. However, they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consulate were not recording at the time.

Countries have been under increased pressure to demand answers from Riyadh, especially those with longstanding, friendly ties to the Gulf kingdom, such as the US and UK.

On Tuesday, Hunt tweeted that he had met with Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK and said the government "will treat the incident seriously” if the reports of his death prove accurate.

The UK has sold billions of dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in recent years. Since 2015, government figures show that the UK has licensed more than $6.2bn in arms to the Saudis, including aircraft, helicopters, drones, bombs and missiles.

Only one of the letter's signatories, Labour MP Ann Clwyd, is also on the influential arms export controls select committee, which approves UK arms sales to foreign governments.

Hunt has not yet responded to the letter. MEE was not able to contact the Foreign Office for comment on Friday.

Growing numbers of activists and human rights groups have condemned Khashoggi's disappearance.

On Wednesday, several activists and journalists gathered in front of Saudi Arabia's embassy in London to demand answers about his fate.

Chanting "Where is Jamal, we want to know", at least a dozen protesters attended the demonstration on Wednesday, organised jointly by PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, and ALQST, a group that monitors human rights in the Gulf kingdom.

Some demonstrators held pictures of Khashoggi, while others carried placards with the phrase, "What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?"