WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will seek an update to Saudi Arabia's investigation into the October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he visits Riyadh during a trip to the Middle East next week, the State Department said on Friday.
Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who had become a critic of the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Saudi Arabia says it held an initial court appearance Thursday for 11 people charged in connection with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was killed October 2 while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The official Saudi Press Agency said prosecutors demanded "proper punishments" for the accused, including the death penalty for five of the defendants.
Prosecutors first announced in November they intended to seek the death penalty for those "charged with ordering and committing the crime
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the crown prince ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, whose body was dismembered and removed from the building to a location still publicly unknown. Top Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of Saudi leadership. Saudi officials have denied accusations that the prince ordered the murder.
A Saudi court on Thursday held its first hearing on Khashoggi's case in which Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects in the case. The United Nations human rights office on Friday called the trial "not sufficient."
Media streaming company Netflix has removed from its service in Saudi Arabia an episode of a satirical comedy show that is critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The episode of "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" has been available on the U.S.
Pompeo will also visit Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait as part of his Jan. 8 to Jan. 15 trip, the State Department said in a statement.
As part of his talks with Middle Eastern leaders, Pompeo will also discuss the war in Yemen as well as Iran, Syria and other regional issues, the department said.