Saudi man wrongly arrested in France over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi says he felt like he was ‘in a zoo’ during detention

  • Khalid al-Otaibi (33) was detained in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle on Tuesday 
  • After Interpol’s red alert was activated, it identified him as an ex member of the Saudi royal Guard wanted in connection to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Saudi Arabia protested, claiming that Al-Otaibi is in jail in their country
  • Al-Otaibi was freed Wednesday by police after realizing they were dealing with the wrong man 

The Saudi man wrongly arrested in France over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has said he felt like he was ‘in a zoo’ during his detention.  

Khalid al-Otaibi was looking pale and tired, wearing a black sweater, black cap, and was taken to Paris’s main international airport. Then, he was freed the following day.

He said that they took him to a room with all glass, used for criminals and had surveillance. The air was not good enough.

He said, “I tried to fall asleep all night but couldn’t, because it was too uncomfortable.” “They looked at me like they were looking after a zoo.”

He said, “They asked me to eat. They gave me water from an unclean cup.”

Saudi  man Khalid al-Otaibi (pictured) who wrongly arrested in France on Tuesday over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has said he felt like he was 'in a zoo' during his detention

Saudi  man Khalid al-Otaibi (pictured) who wrongly arrested in France on Tuesday over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has said he felt like he was ‘in a zoo’ during his detention

French police believed they had arrested Al-Otaibi (file image of his passport) on Tuesday morning in Paris, but released him a day later after realising they had the wrong man

French police claimed they had taken Al-Otaibi into custody (file image from his passport). However, they later released him after realizing that they mistakenly had the wrong man.

Otaibi, who shares his name with Khashoggi’s killer man under international arrest warrant, was victim to a misidentification case.

Otaibi, the other Otaibi, is believed to be part of the hit crew that killed the Saudi consulate Istanbul murder in 2018. 

Saudi Arabian common name Khalid al Otaibi.

The man who was released said that he tried to avoid any problems during his experience. “At the start they stopped me talking to the Embassy.

“In the morning, an officer arrived and communication improved. Later, an officer from the Embassy arrived with a lawyer. They took me to their office.

The arrest was made just days following a meeting between the French president Emmanuel Macron and Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi crown prince and defacto leader. This dismissed any suggestion that Macron’s visit had been an endorsement of Khashoggi’s death.

Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist with links to the Saudi royals, was murdered in Istanbul in 2018 and 26 men are currently on trial in absentia in Turkey over his death

Jamal Khashoggi was a journalist dissident with connections to Saudi royaltys. 26 Turkish men are being tried in absentia for his murder. 

Khalid Al-Otaibi is a former member of the Saudi royal guard wanted over the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul (file image, Al-Otaibi in Istanbul airport before the killing)

Khalid Al-Otaibi, a former member the Saudi royal guard is wanted in connection with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at Istanbul’s Istanbul Airport in 2018. (file photo: Al-Otaibi before the killing).

Khashoggi is seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the day of his killing

Khashoggi was seen at the Saudi consulate Istanbul the day before his assassination

Prince Mohammed’s reputation internationally was severely damaged by Khashoggi’s death. Khashoggi is trying to portray himself as an advocate of reform and modernisation.

Crown prince said that he accepted Saudi Arabia’s total responsibility, but denied any personal connection. The kingdom claimed it was due to agents who went ‘rogue’.

According to a security source from Saudi Arabia, Otaibi is actually being held in Saudi Arabia with all the other defendants.

French President Francois Hollande was criticized for a letter published by a Saudi newspaper on Thursday.

Riyadh’s editorial stated that “the release of the citizen does not suffice to remedy Paris’ situation.”

“The matter must be referred to the courts in order for compensation of any psychological or moral harm done,” it said.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman's (pictured) international reputation took a major hit from Khashoggi's murder as he seeks to position himself as a champion of modernisation and reform

The international reputation of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (pictured), was severely damaged by Khashoggi’s assassination. He seeks to establish himself as an advocate for modernisation and reform.