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story.lead_photo.caption U.S. Sen. John Boozman is shown in this 2015 file photo.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman is expressing concern about the disappearance of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, saying it's a mystery that must be solved.

The Republican is joined by Arkansas Democratic candidates for Congress, who say it's time for answers.

Other members of the Arkansas congressional delegation are declining to weigh in, more than two weeks after the Virginia resident and Saudi citizen vanished.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was seized and slaughtered inside the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.

Saudi officials say Khashoggi exited the building shortly after arriving Oct. 2, but they have released no videos or other evidence to support that claim.

Shortly before traveling to Montana for a campaign rally, President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that "it certainly looks" like Khashoggi is dead. If so, there could be "very severe" consequences, Trump said; he had previously spoken of "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is to blame.

In an Oct. 11 tweet, Boozman said the disappearance of Khashoggi can't be ignored, writing:

"This is a disturbing situation that, in the interest of human rights, must be accounted for and the truth made known."

In a statement released Thursday, Boozman reiterated the need for answers.

"It is imperative that the Saudis continue to cooperate with the investigation so we can get answers. Those responsible must be held fully accountable for their actions," he said.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sought reactions from all of the delegation members, asking how they thought the U.S. should proceed.

In written statements, they warned against a rush to judgment or opted not to comment.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who met with the crown prince in March, said a lot remains unknown.

"There's been a lot more speculation than facts in this matter. Until we know more, we ought not jump to conclusions," the Dardanelle Republican said through a spokesman.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman also declined to weigh in.

"I have no comment because I have not had an official briefing and have had no information beyond what is in the media," the Republican from Hot Springs said. "We don't know the accuracy of those reports at this time."

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, a Republican from Rogers, wouldn't address the disappearance or the administration's response.

"Proper authorities are working to gather all the facts related to the case, and the congressman respects that process. With differing media reports and information yet to be verified, we have no comment beyond that," spokesman Alexia Sikora said.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Jonesboro who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, also declined to answer questions.

"We do not have a comment at this time but have been actively reviewing all incoming reports on the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi," Crawford's spokesman, Sara Robertson, said.

U.S. Rep. French Hill, a Republican from Little Rock, is taking a similar stance.

"We do not have all the facts on the alleged killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and until we have accurate, substantial information, Congressman Hill does not have a comment at this time," Hill's spokesman, Caroline Thorman, said.

Democrats, on the other hand, say enough is known to draw some disturbing conclusions.

"The government of Saudi Arabia murdered a U.S. resident and is now concocting numerous false stories to cover their crime and the Trump administration is falling for their lies," said Josh Mahony of Fayetteville, Womack's opponent in the 3rd Congressional District. "There must be swift consequences for murdering any U.S. resident. By doing nothing, the Trump administration makes our country weaker because it signals to the world that you can literally murder U.S. residents and the United States will just shrug their shoulders in resignation."

Hayden Shamel of Hot Springs, who is trying to win Westerman's 4th District seat, said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shouldn't attend next week's investor conference in Riyadh "until we know exactly what happened to Khashoggi. This is a human-rights issue and the U.S. must stand firm in its response."

(Thursday, Mnuchin, like other leaders around the world, announced that he is canceling the trip.)

Chintan Desai of Helena-West Helena, who is challenging Crawford in the 1st District, said he's puzzled by Crawford's silence.

"I would expect that the congressman would be outraged by the fact that an American resident was likely tortured, brutally tortured, and murdered," he said.

"It's important that we hold the individuals who are responsible for this accountable and we simply haven't seen that from this administration or from folks on Capitol Hill," he said.

State Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock, who is challenging Hill in the 2nd District, said a "full and immediate investigation" is needed, "not only of what happened with Mr. Khashoggi, but also what has happened in the days since."

"Saudi Arabia has been an important partner for the United States for security and stability in the Middle East for decades, but the United States must insist on this investigation and needs to be prepared to take severe and swift action to ensure that those at home and abroad know that human rights are paramount for the American people," he added.

Metro on 10/19/2018

Print Headline: U.S. Sen. John Boozman seeks answers in Saudi case

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Comments

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  • Nodmcm
    October 19, 2018 at 6:26 a.m.

    HE SPEAKS! Its like a miracle to see our 'Silent Senator' finally come out and take a strong position for justice. Senator Cotton is unusually ambivalent and noncommittal, probably because his boss President Trump is still somehow beholden to the Saudi Arabians and continues to bow and scrape before the Wahhabi Muslim leaders of the nation that contributed 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorist killers of thousands of American innocents. Let's hope brave and determined Sen. Boozman keeps pushing the sissyboys Trump and Cotton to finally, after all these years, stand up to the Saudis. If Barack Obama could do it, so can Trump and Cotton.

  • HenryP
    October 19, 2018 at 7:52 a.m.

    It's none of our business...Stay out of it...

  • PopMom
    October 19, 2018 at 8:33 a.m.

    People like Henry P do not care about freedom of the press. Our founding fathers were against supporting tyrannical monsters abroad. The facts are pretty well known. The Washington Post columnist entered the Saudi Embassy and did not come out alive. Members of the Prince’s detail killed him. As always, French Hill is milk toast and worthless. He only cares about protecting insurance companies at the expense of sick people.

  • hurricane46
    October 19, 2018 at 9:10 a.m.

    Bozo finally wakes up and reacts to something going on, after all he's been asleep in D.C. since 1999.

  • WhododueDiligence
    October 19, 2018 at 10:01 a.m.

    Contrary to the previously expressed opinion, the Khashoggi case is our business for a number of highly important reasons including, as PopMom, said, our constitutionally protected freedom of the press. Khashoggi was working for a US newspaper as a resident of the US in exile due to the lack of freedom in the press in Saudi Arabia. Also, the Magnitsky Act, which initially was pertained to Russia, was expanded by Congress to allow sanctions against any nation responsible for killings such as this. Members of the US Senate in both parties have cited the Magnitsky Act's applicability in this case.
    *
    As Senator Boozman said, it's also a crucial human rights issue. The rogue-killers theory and the interrogation-gone-bad claims are not credible. If the perpetrators are not punished, the US will have zero credibility in human rights issues. This is not a time to hem and haw in wishy-washy fashion. Senator Boozman and like-minded politicians are out in front and on the right side of this important issue.

  • mrcharles
    October 19, 2018 at 11:03 a.m.

    Amazing to think this event does not matter. Just because the delicate trump people have created a hate the media type, does not mean we have to whore our selves to another country that kills the opposition [ see putins russia and SA].

    If people think SA is so great, investigate further and see how SA allows anti-american talk by its way past nuts theologians, whose influence is found in both their daily radio, their daily sermons and even text books. and remember conservative lackeys they are them there muslims, which are suppose to be hated.

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