French authorities release man accused of killing Khashoggi, blame mistaken identity

French authorities on Wednesday released the man detained the previous day for his suspected involvement in the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi after determining the arrest had been a case of mistaken identity.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said the man believed to be Saudi citizen Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, 33, one of the 26 Saudi nationals wanted in connection to the killing of Khashoggi, had been released from detention following “thorough checks,” according to The Washington Post.

French authorities on Tuesday had arrested the man at Charles de Gaulle airport, where he was scheduled to board a flight back to Riyadh. Authorities said they were detaining him on an unsettled Turkish arrest warrant, according to the Post.

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Nearly 30 hours later, however, the man was released.

Khalid Aedh al-Otaibi was allegedly a member of the 15-person team ordered to kill Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018, at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, according to the Post. He was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in November 2018 in connection to Khashoggi’s killing, along with 16 other Saudis.

Saudi officials were initially skeptical when French authorities said they detained a suspect in Khashoggi's killing on Tuesday. The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement on Twitter that news reports were “incorrect,” adding “the person who was arrested has nothing to do with the case in question.”

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A French police spokesperson Tuesday night suggested that they did not know for certain if they had arrested the correct suspect, saying, “It’s still possible that this is the right person, just as it’s still possible that it’s the wrong person,” according to the Post.

Khashoggi, a Post columnist who had been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 after going to the building to arrange a marriage license.

According to a declassified report released by the Biden administration in February, the crown prince approved the killing of Khashoggi. He was found to have approved the “capture or kill” operation.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry, however, rejected that notion, calling it “negative, false and unacceptable," according to Reuters.