A US intelligence report has found that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The report by the office of the director of national intelligence, released Friday, 26, February, cited bin Salman’s control of decision-making in Saudi Arabia as well as the involvement of a key advisor and members of the prince’s protective detail in the operation that killed Khashoggi, a critic of the royal family.
As far back as 2018, the CIA reportedly believed that the crown prince had ordered the murder but the allegation that he was involved has never been made publicly by US officials until now.
Khashoggi was murdered while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the report says.
The report goes on to name individuals allegedly complicit in, or responsible for Khashoggi’s death. But it says they do not know how far in advance those involved planned to harm him.
Saudi authorities have blamed the killing on a ‘rogue operation’ by a team of agents sent to return the journalist to the kingdom, and a Saudi court tried and sentenced five individuals to 20 years in prison last September, after initially sentencing them to death.
In 2019, UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard accused the Saudi state of the ‘deliberate, premeditated execution’ of Khashoggi and dismissed the Saudi trial as an antithesis of justice.
The 59-year-old journalist went to the consulate in October 2018 in order to obtain papers allowing him to marry his Turkish fiancée.
He had allegedly received assurances from the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who was ambassador to the US at the time, that it would be safe to visit the consulate. Prince Khalid has denied any communication with the journalist.
According to Saudi prosecutors, Khashoggi was forcibly restrained after a struggle and injected with a large amount of a drug, resulting in an overdose that led to his death. His body was then dismembered and handed over to a local collaborator outside the consulate, the remains were never found.
Details were revealed in transcripts of purported audio recordings of the killing obtained by Turkish intelligence.
From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Prince Mohammed.