Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi “lacks credibility,” British Prime Minister Theresa May told King Salman Wednesday, according to a government statement.
May spoke with the Saudi king over the phone and reiterated the UK’s “grave concern” about the journalist’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“There remains an urgent need to establish exactly what happened,” May told King Salman, urging Saudi Arabia to cooperate with the Turkish investigation and to be transparent about the results.
“It is important that the full facts are established,” she said, according to the statement.
After days of denying knowledge of his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia last week claimed that Khashoggi died during a brawl inside the consulate.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz sacked the deputy of the country’s intelligence service and a top aide and ordered the arrest of 18 suspects over the case.
“The Prime Minister also reiterated that all individuals bearing responsibility for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi must be properly held to account,” the statement said.
May also said British Home Secretary Sajid Javid is taking action against all suspects in the killing to prevent them from entering the UK.
“If these individuals have visas, they are being revoked,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, May said the UK condemns Khashoggi’s killing “in the strongest possible terms” in response to questions from lawmakers at the House of Commons.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had gone missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
On the day of his 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 Saudi consul general as well as the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.