Weekly News Roundup

October 26, 2018

Image: ABC News

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor says the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate was premeditated, reversing previous official statements the killing was unintended.

The death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sparked global outrage and mushroomed into a crisis for the world’s top oil exporter and strategic ally of the West.

The Saudi disclosure came after CIA director Gina Haspel heard an audio recording of the killing during a fact-finding visit to Turkey this week, according to a Reuter report.

The spy chief on Thursday briefed President Donald Trump on Turkey’s findings and her discussions, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took part in the meeting, the State Department said.

Saudi officials initially denied having anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance after he entered the consulate on October 2 before changing the official account to say an internal investigation suggested he was accidentally killed in a botched operation to return him to the kingdom.

On Thursday, Saudi state TV quoted the Saudi public prosecutor as saying the killing was premeditated and prosecutors were interrogating suspects on the basis of information provided by a joint Saudi-Turkish task force.

“Information from the Turkish side affirms that the suspects in Khashoggi’s case premeditated their crime,” the statement carried by state TV said.

Turkey and Western allies of Riyadh have voiced deep scepticism about Saudi explanations of the killing.

Turkish officials suspect Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, 59, inside the consulate and cut up his body. Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting the murder.

The CIA’s Haspel heard an audio recording of Khashoggi’s death during a trip to Turkey this week, sources told Reuters.

Among various versions of what happened to Khashoggi given by Riyadh, Saudi officials had said the columnist was either killed in a fight inside the consulate or died in a chokehold when he resisted being drugged and abducted.

A European security source who was briefed by people who listened to the audio said of the recording:

“There was an argument at the beginning, they insulted each other, it then developed. (Saudis said) ‘Let’s give a lesson to him’.”

How Western allies deal with Riyadh will hinge on the extent to which they believe responsibility for Khashoggi’s death lies directly with the prince and the Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia has detained 18 people and dismissed five senior government officials as part of the investigation into Khashoggi’s murder.

Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s son Salah Khashoggi and his family have arrived in Washington after leaving Saudi Arabia, according to sources close to the family.

Salah Khashoggi received condolences from Saudi King Salman and the crown prince after his father’s death.

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Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before the US Open, the Danish tennis player revealed at the WTA Finals on Thursday, reports the ABC

She made the announcement after being eliminated from the year-end competition following a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 loss to Elina Svitolina in her third round-robin match.

“It turns out that I have an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which goes in and attacks your joints,” Wozniacki said.

“When the body has a lot of fluids in it and you swell up, you get tired, you get exhausted, all these things.

“In the beginning, it was a shock. You feel like you’re the fittest athlete out there. That’s what I’m known for, and all of a sudden you have this to work with,” she said.

The 28-year-old Wozniacki won her first grand slam title at Melbourne Park at the start of the season to briefly recapture the number one ranking after a six-year wait.

After Wimbledon in July, the current world number three began feeling unwell and thought she was suffering from the flu while on vacation.

However, her legs were hurting her when she started playing again and in August in Montreal, she woke up one morning and couldn’t lift her arms above her head.

Wozniacki thought she may have glandular fever, but the doctor said she was fine — however more in-depth testing revealed she had rheumatoid arthritis.

Despite the diagnosis, she won her third title of the year in Beijing three weeks ago and said it was initially important to keep the diagnosis a secret.

“Winning [in Beijing] was huge. It also gave me the belief that nothing is going to set me back. I’m going to work with this and this is how it is, and I can do anything.” Wozniacki said.

“I didn’t want to talk about it, obviously, during the year because I didn’t want to give anyone the edge or thinking that I’m not feeling well.

“You learn how to just cope after matches.

“Some days you wake up and you can’t get out of bed, and you just have to know that’s how it is, but other days you’re fine. You don’t even feel like you have it.

“I didn’t want to look it up, I didn’t want to Google it, because if you Google stuff you feel like you’re going to die,” Wozniacki added with a smile.

After the US Open in September, she decided to do more research on rheumatoid arthritis and her doctor said much progress had been made in managing the disease.

“You just have to be positive and work with it, and there are ways you can feel better, so that’s great,” Wozniacki said.

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A second package addressed to former US vice president Joe Biden has been intercepted at a mail facility in Wilmington, Delaware.

A law enforcement official says it has similar markings and characteristics to the packages containing bombs sent to other prominent Democrats, the ABC reports.

The official said another package addressed to Biden was also found on Thursday morning, that one at a postal centre in New Castle, Delaware.

Several packages containing pipe bombs packed with shards of glass have been intercepted in the last few days.

They targeted Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, CNN and others.

A New York City police bomb squad also recovered a suspicious package addressed to Robert De Niro, who has criticised President Donald Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the notion that Trump is responsible for the packages sent to his opponents is “disgraceful”.

She told reporters on Thursday that there’s a big difference between “comments made and actions taken”.

Former CIA head John Brennan, one of the targets of a mail bomb, told Trump to stop blaming others for the anger in society.

His tweet on Thursday came shortly after Trump tweeted that much of the anger in society is caused by the “purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media”.

Brennan, a frequent critic of Trump, said: “Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential.”

A package containing a pipe bomb was sent to Brennan but addressed to CNN’s New York office.

No one was hurt in that attempted attack or other mail bombs aimed at critics of Trump.

The package addressed to Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises in New York was similar to other packages to prominent Democrats and CNN, a law enforcement source said.

Security personnel at Tribeca Productions summoned police at around 5am local time and a bomb squad removed the package.

The company said in a statement on Thursday that its Manhattan building is open and deemed safe.

 

This weekly news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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