Saudi Arabia has rejected a report by US intelligence agencies released on Friday that blames Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.”
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. His body has never been recovered.
The report, produced by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), confirms that US spy agencies had concluded that Prince Muhammad “approved an operation” to capture or kill Khashoggi.
The report said: “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.
“We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision-making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.”
The Foreign Ministry statement called Khashoggi’s murder “an abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the Kingdom’s laws and values.”
It said the crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations and authorities of the agencies where they were employed.
The people involved in the crime had been convicted and sentenced by the Saudi courts and the Khashoggi family had welcomed the sentences, the statement added.
The Four-page report had been held back from public view by former president Donald Trump but was released by new President Joe Biden who had pledged during his 2020 political campaign to hold the Saudis accountable for Khashoggi’s murder.
After the release of the report, the Biden administration officials announced travel bans on 76 Saudi nationals and imposed financial sanctions on Saudi Major General Ahmad Hassan Mohammad Asiri, a close confidant of Prince Muhammad.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Washington “the report speaks for itself” and the Biden administration is “trying to bring transparency to this issue and share with the American people what we know”.