October 21, 2018 / 2:45 PM / 25 days ago

Canada's Freeland says Saudi Khashoggi explanations "lack credibility"

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with reporters after meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to discus NAFTA autos negotiations in Washington, DC, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/David Lawder/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s foreign minister, whose tweets on human rights led to a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia earlier this year, said the kingdom’s explanations on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul “lack credibility.”

After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said the journalist and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had died in a fistfight at the consulate. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.

“The explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility,” Chrystia Freeland said in a statement late on Saturday night, adding that a “full and rigorous accounting” of the circumstances around Khashoggi’s death should be made.

“Those responsible for the killing must be held to account and must face justice,” she said.

In August, Saudi Arabia froze ties with Ottawa after Canada urged the release of jailed civil rights activists in the kingdom. A Canadian foreign affairs tweet was translated into Arabic and sent out by its embassy in Riyadh, angering Saudi authorities.

Reporting by Toronto newsroom, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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