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Saudi man arrested in Paris not a suspect in Khashoggi murder, says France's attorney-general

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
People hold posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the two-year anniversary of his death, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020
People hold posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the two-year anniversary of his death, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

A Saudi national arrested on Tuesday is not wanted for the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, France's attorney-general has clarified.

Khalid Al-Otaibi was detained by border police at a Paris airport as he tried to board a flight to Riyadh, French police told Euronews.

A police spokesperson stated that Al-Otaibi had been detained on the basis of a Turkish arrest warrant.

But France's attorney-general said on Wednesday the man arrested was not the suspect wanted by Turkey.

Paris prosecutors also confirmed that the warrant did not apply to the suspect and that he had been released.

In a statement released late on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's embassy in France had demanded the suspect's "immediate release", claiming he had "no links" with Khashoggi's murder.

Khashoggi was assassinated in 2018 at Saudi Arabia's embassy in Istanbul. His murder stunned the world and severely damaged the reputation of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who US intelligence claimed "approved" the killing.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia sentenced five men to death and jailed three others for the murder in a case that has been widely criticised by rights groups.

A Saudi diplomat called Khalid Al-Otaibi, 33, was one of several Saudi officials sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2018 over Khashoggi’s killing.

On Tuesday, a man presented a passport in his name while trying to travel to the Saudi capital from Paris-Charles De Gaulle Airport.

But according to a Saudi security source, "the real Khaled Al-Otaibi and all the defendants in this case are imprisoned".

There was no immediate comment from Turkey over the arrest in Paris.

The arrest came just three days after French President Emmanuel Macron met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah.

Macron said he had been able to "raise the issue of human rights" and have a direct exchange with the Saudi prince.

"The next few weeks and months will allow us to see if we are making progress on this subject," the French President added.