Intelligence report on Jamal Khashoggi's murder released
26 Février, 2021, 22:10 | Auteur: Therese Cote
Ahead of the release of the declassified US intelligence report, President Joe Biden was expected to speak to Saudi King Salman as soon as Thursday for the first time since taking office more than a month ago.
The report's release is expected to coincide with the first phone conversation between Mr. Biden and Saudi King Salman since Mr. Biden became President.
The documents are labelled "Top Secret" and signed by a Saudi Minister who relayed the orders of the Crown Prince, the young de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi, a USA resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of the crown prince's policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the crown prince in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.
"The two leaders affirmed the historic nature of the relationship", the White House said in a statement. He also hopes to address other challenges, such as fighting Islamist extremism and advancing Arab-Israeli ties.
But, determined to maintain strong relations with Riyadh, Trump would not publicly hold the Saudi strongman responsible, even as the U.S. government demanded the perpetrators be punished.
The officials said the report, for which the Central Intelligence Agency was the main contributor, assessed that the crown prince approved and likely ordered the murder of Khashoggi, whose Washington Post column had criticized the crown prince's policies.
A classified version of the report was shared with members of Congress in late 2018. Former president Donald Trump paid little attention to Riyadh's human-rights record, including its military intervention in Yemen.
The intelligence assessment is not new. Khashoggi lived in Virginia, but died visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he thought he was collecting documentation for his wedding. Khashoggi was critical of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies. His remains have not been found. In the weeks after Mr. Khashoggi's death, Mr. Trump pledged to remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia - despite acknowledging that MBS may have known of the plan to kill the journalist.
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But barring the crown prince would essentially be declaring that the United States would not deal with a man who was a key player in the killing of an American resident.
Seeking paperwork to marry this fiancée Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi walked into a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he was killed and dismembered.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded that the crown prince "approved" the murder of Khashoggi, according to a four-page report released Friday afternoon.
Five people were convicted of the murder and given the death penalty in a 2019 trial, but their sentences were commuted to 20 years in jail after Khashoggi's family forgave them. Khashoggi's supporters and US lawmakers have fought to reveal more about what intelligence officials knew about his death for more than two years since that time, in the fact of stiff resistance from then-President Donald Trump's administration.
"There is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the crown prince demanding further investigation", Callamard said after the six-month probe.
The report's findings, and Biden's resulting next steps, at a minimum will set the administration's tone for dealing with the ambitious 35-year-old prince. Both are part of Prince Mohammed's inner circle.
MbS has consolidated power since ousting his uncle as heir to the throne in a 2017 palace coup, seeking to win public support by overseeing popular economic and social reforms.
"Together they discussed regional security, including the renewed diplomatic efforts led by the United Nations and the United States to end the war in Yemen, and the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups", the readout states.
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