Son of murdered journalist Khashoggi leaves Saudi Arabia for US
RIYADH - AFP/AP
Salah Khashoggi shakes hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after being 'invited' to receive condolences.
Salah Khashoggi’s departure came after he was photographed on Oct. 24 with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a condolence visit, staring coldly as the pair shook hands.
"Salah and his family are on a plane to (Washington) DC," Sarah Leah Whitson, the rights watchdog’s executive director for the Middle East and North Africa, told AFP, citing a family friend.
Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment, but Whitson said that they were apparently allowed to leave after a travel ban on Salah was lifted.
Salah will join his other siblings who are based in the US, friends of the family told AFP.
"Jamal’s family needs a place to be together where they feel safe to mourn their beloved one," said Randa Slim, director of conflict resolution at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, who knew the slain journalist personally.
"It is tragic that it took his death to get the Saudi authorities to grant them the freedom to travel," Slim told AFP.
Spokesman Robert Palladino said Oct. 25 that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "made it clear to Saudi leaders that he wanted Salah Khashoggi to return to the United States, and we are pleased that he is now able to do so."
Riyadh finally accepted on Thursday what Turkey had said virtually from the start -- that he was killed in a premeditated hit.
The photo of the handshake with Prince Mohammed, who has faced a torrent of global criticism over the killing, went viral on social media, where rights activists demanded the immediate lifting of the travel ban.
Whitson said the end of travel restrictions on Salah had come as a huge relief.
US President Donald Trump has derided the killing as "one of the worst cover-ups" in history.