According to CNN, citing a US senior official, the CIA has concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia personally ordered the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – who had been highly critical of the Saudi government and the Crown Prince’s policies.
The Saudi government has denied that the son of King Salman was involved.
According to CNN, “the conclusion is based on a recording provided by the Turkish government and other evidence, including American intelligence.” This included a phone call between the Crown Prince and his brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman – the Saudi Ambassador to the United States – people familiar with the matter reported to the Washington Post but requested to stay anonymous. It was claimed Prince Khalid made the call, on orders of the Crown Prince, to Khashoggi to tell him to travel to the Istanbul consulate to retrieve the documents, telling him it would be safe to visit.
It is not known if Prince Khalid knew Khashoggi would be killed. He has denied the report remarking on Twitter, “I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim.”
The senior US official also told the American news network that “investigators also believe an operation such as the one that ended in Khashoggi’s death would not have happened without bin Salman’s knowledge given his control of the government.”
As expected, the Saudi government has denied the CIA’s findings. A Saudi Embassy spokesman called the accusations false, adding We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.”
The Washington Post, of which Khashoggi was a contributor, reported the news first saying there is high confidence from US officials on the finding. The US official also remarked that the Crown Prince is seen as a “good technocrat” and a person who “goes from zero to 60, doesn’t seem to understand that there are some things you can’t do.”
The US official added that it is not believed the Crown Prince, who is considered to have a firm grip on power, will lose his status as the heir to the throne, “The general agreement is that he is likely to survive.”
A CIA spokesperson has declined to comment.
So far, the White House and President Trump have not commented. Trump has been hesitant to admit the Crown Prince holds blame for the assassination.