The US Biden administration on Thursday released an intelligence report indicting the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
President Joe Biden was privy to the report five weeks ago, as he expected to speak soon by phone with Saudi Arabian King Salman, 85, father of the crown prince, the country’s 35-year-old de facto ruler.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told AFP that the report’s release is part of Biden’s policy towards the Kingdom and to realign the US’ ties with Riyadh to traditional lines after years of giving Saudi a pass on its human rights record and intervention in the civil war in Yemen.
The Trump administration had maintained a genial relationship with the oil producing nation in the last four years. Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist was killed in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by a team of operatives, who have been found to have links to the crown prince. Khashoggi’s remains were never found.
In December 2019, Saudi Arabia sentenced five men to death and three others to jail terms on charges of killing Jamal Khashoggi. While media organisations have speculated involvement of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi government has insisted that Kashoggi’s killers acted on their own accord.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September 2019 said that he bears responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, “because it happened under my watch.” The death sentence of the men who were convicted of Khashoggi’s murder was commuted to 20 years in prison after Khashoggi’s sons said they forgive their father’s killer in May 2020. There is very little evidence linking the crown prince to the Khashoggi murder.
Former President Donald Trump in September 2020 said he ‘saved his ass’, talking about the Saudi crown prince. Trump said he rejected calls from politicians, lawmakers and human rights groups to release the then-classified report in 2018 when it was first briefed to Congress.
However, as soon as Thursday, the US intelligence community is set to release a long-awaited report with new public details about those behind the death of Khashoggi.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: News Agencies | Nicolas Asfouri – Pool/Getty