Washington: A U.S. intelligence report which is expected to be declassified by Friday suggests Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in approving the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as per a person familiar with the findings.
The officials said the report, which is build on classified intelligence from the CIA and other intelligence agencies, assess that the crown prince approved and likely ordered the murder of Khashoggi, whose Washington Post column had criticized the crown prince’s policies.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat who succeeded the Republican Donald Trump five weeks ago, told reporters on Wednesday he had read the report, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and 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, amid tensions over its human rights record.
As per reports, ahead of the report’s publication, President Joe Biden held a call on Thursday with Saudi King Salman, where he discussed regional security and the renewed U.S. and United Nations effort to end the war in Yemen, and “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law,” the White House statement read.
However, Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in the killing, while saying he accepts symbolic responsibility for it as the country’s de facto ruler. Saudi officials have said the murder was carried out by rogue agents who have since been prosecuted.
Meanwhile, Ned Price, State Department spokesman declined to comment on the report though suggested that the U.S. was looking at other ways to hold the perpetrators of the killing responsible for their actions. Among the options may be cutting back arms sales to Saudi Arabia and imposing sanctions.
“I expect that we will be in a position before long to speak to steps to promote accountability going forward for this horrific crime,” Price told reporters in Washington. “Transparency, as it often is, is an element of accountability. I wouldn’t expect the accountability to stop there, however.”
The report, which was withheld by the Trump administration, reflects the difference in attitudes toward Saudi Arabia, and human rights issues, under Joe Biden.
Former US President Donald Trump had dismissed concerns about whether the crown prince approved the killing — “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,” he had alleged — citing the economic rewards of selling arms to the Saudis.