French authorities made the first real arrest in the murder of former Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post reports.
French authorities on Tuesday detained Khalid Aedh al-Otaibi on an outstanding arrest warrant from Turkey.
Otaibi, a Saudi national, was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris as he prepared to fly to Saudi Arabia.
Proceedings to extradite Otaibi to Turkey have already begun.
Otaibi was one of the 17 Saudi nationals sanctioned by the US in 2018 for his role in the murder.
Officials say Otaibi was part of a 15-person team sent to execute Khashoggi, a frequent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
First arrest outside of Saudi Arabia:
Otaibi is the first person accused in the murder to be arrested outside of Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi court in 2019 sentenced five people to death and three to jail over he murder but the death sentences were overturned after some of Khashoggi’s family members forgave the perpetrators, which allowed their sentences to be set aside under Saudi law.
A UN investigator said the Saudi court proceeding made a “mockery” of justice.
Turkey began a trial last year for 20 people believed to have played a role in the killing.
“But hopes that the trial would reveal new information about what happened to Khashoggi — or result in convictions that would embarrass the Saudi monarchy — have dimmed as Turkey has tried to mend its relationship with Saudi Arabia and halted its previous, public denunciations of the kingdom for covering up the murder as well as the role of senior officials,” The Post reported.
Who is Otaibi?
Otaibi, 33, s a former Saudi royal guard.
Saudi investigators ordered his arrest but ultimately decided not to try him.
Saudi officials also rejected Turkey’s request to extradite him to face murder charges in Istanbul.
Otaibi was seen flanking bin Salman during a 2017 trip to the US.
US records show that Otaibi entered the US three times around the same time as the Saudi royal family.