Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been publicly accused of approving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States said on Friday, 26 February.
The US resident had criticised Prince Mohammed in several articles in The Washington Post.
On 2 October 2018, the 59-year-old journalist who had gone into self-exile was told by Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States to go to the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul to receive certain documents for his forthcoming marriage. He was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a group allegedly directed by a close aide to the prince. The intelligence report said it was a 15-member-team that executed him, of which seven of them were from the Rapid Intervention Force.
Sanctions Imposed, Visa Ban on Saudis
Initially the Saudi government had denied knowing the journalist, and now has accepted responsibility for the killing but stated this did not involve the prince.
US President Biden declassified this report that was completed during former president Donald Trump’s regime. This is a bold move considering the Trump administration is known to carefully deal with the longtime US ally and oil provider. The prince is also the defence minister and the US President will still need to discuss with him on issues including oil, Iran and Yemen.
The United States relies on the country to help contain Iran, to counter terrorist groups and to broker peaceful relations with Israel.
The Biden administration has not taken any direct action against the de facto ruler of the kingdom, but has announced travel and financial sanctions on other Saudis who have been involved in the killing and on members of the elite unit of the Royal Guard who protect the crown prince. The "Khashoggi Act" has been introduced to ban the entry of foreigners who harass reporters in the United States. 76 Saudis have already been placed on the blacklist, AFP reported.
Several lawmakers in the Biden administration have demanded severe action.
‘Negative, False, Unacceptable’: Saudi
The Saudi government issued a sharp response to the report, rejecting it as a “negative, false and unacceptable assessment” about its leaders.
“The ministry reiterates what was previously announced by the relevant authorities in the kingdom, that this was an abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the kingdom’s laws and values. This crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations and authorities of the agencies where they were employed. The relevant authorities in the kingdom took all possible measures within our legal system to ensure that these individuals were properly investigated, and to ensure that justice was served,” the statement read.
“It is truly unfortunate that this report, with its unjustified and inaccurate conclusions, is issued while the Kingdom had clearly denounced this heinous crime, and the Kingdom’s leadership took the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy never takes place again,” the statement read.
(With inputs from AFP)
. Read more on World by The Quint.Saudi Crown Prince Approved Killing of Journo Khashoggi: Report ‘Tandav’ in India and Blasphemy in Western Cinema . Read more on World by The Quint.