As horrific new reports continue to emerge in the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi nearly two weeks ago, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the government wants to see an investigation into who might be responsible.
But she did not indicate whether Canada suspects Saudi involvement.
Speaking with reporters after question period on Monday, Freeland said she spoke earlier in the day with the Saudi foreign minister to express Canada’s concern about the disappearance of the journalist, who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Canada remains very troubled by the disappearance,” she said.
“Canada calls for a thorough, credible and transparent investigation into the serious allegations into Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.”
Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident but Saudi citizen, was last seen almost two weeks ago when he walked into the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2 in Turkey.
He never came out.
Turkish officials reportedly obtained video and audio recordings of what they said was his killing.
The officials said they feared Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered by a Saudi hit team.
While the kingdom has denied those assertions, it also has not given any evidence that Khashoggi left the consulate.
Freeland said she had been in contact with other foreign ministers about the “very serious situation” but did not give any indication of whether the government believes the Saudi authorities were involved.
“Those bearing responsibility for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance must be brought to account,” she said.
The foreign ministers from the U.K., France and Germany issued a joint statement on Sunday expressing “grave concern” about the disappearance.
Freeland’s name was not on that statement.
But after it went out, she tweeted the link to the statement.
Canada strongly supports our allies on this important issue // Le Canada supporte fortement nos alliés sur cet important sujet: https://t.co/1lLLwCMZw8
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) October 15, 2018
A joint search of the Saudi consulate in Turkey was scheduled to take place Monday.
Both Turkish and Saudi officials were the only ones taking part.
Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have been tense for months after the kingdom picked a fight over a tweet posted by Freeland in August that expressed concern about the imprisonment of a Saudi women’s rights activist who was among multiple activists targeted by the ruling family.
In retaliation, the kingdom froze business ties, scholarships to students, and airline flights after first expelling the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh and recalling its own from Ottawa.
David Chatterson, former Canadian ambassador to the kingdom, called the move “very brash” and said it was aimed at sending a message to other countries not to criticize the kingdom: in essence, he said Saudi Arabia used the tweet to turn Canada into its “whipping boy.”
Conservatives criticized the government on Monday for tempering its criticism of the Khashoggi disappearance in response to those attacks.
Freeland responded by saying the government would not “take lessons” from the Conservatives on how it broached human rights.