Updated Dec 8, 2021 - World

France releases Saudi man held over suspected links to Khashoggi killing

A person holding a picture of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a vigil for him outside of the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018.

A person holding a candle and a picture of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a vigil outside of the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

French prosecutors said Wednesday that a Saudi man arrested in Paris over suspected links to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been released, calling the arrest a case of mistaken identity, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: Prosecutors said that after "extensive checks on the identity" of the man being held, "the warrant did not apply to him."

Catch-up quick: Law enforcement officials on Tuesday told several media outlets that Khalid Aedh Al-Otaibi — who is one of several people sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries over Khashoggi's murder — was trying to board a flight to Riyadh and was being held on an arrest warrant from Turkey.

  • Not long after news of the arrest, the Saudi Embassy said that the man "arrested has nothing to do with the case in question."

Background: Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post journalist and a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives waiting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, according to a U.S. report.

  • Khashoggi's murder fueled massive outrage against Saudi Arabia and fractured its relationship with the U.S., Turkey and other countries.
  • The U.S. report, released earlier this year, implicated MBS in the murder, assessing that he ordered the Saudi operatives, most of whom were governmental officials, to "capture or kill" Khashoggi.

The big picture: The Turkish government issued arrest warrants for at least 26 Saudis over the killing, though Saudi Arabia refused to extradite them and has tried and sentenced some of them itself, according to the BBC.

  • The United Nations and human rights organizations have criticized the trials, saying Saudi judicial officials were are far too lenient during sentencing.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details on the Saudi man's release.

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