US intelligence agencies disclosed in a newly declassified intelligence report that Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, approved the 2018 murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“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,” the report’s executive summary states.
The four-page document, titled “Assessing the Saudi Government’s Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi” is dated February 11 and marked as declassified by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on February 25.
“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 report says.
Following the report’s release, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new “Khashoggi Ban” which allows the US to restrict visas for individuals acting on behalf of a foreign government who are directly engaged in “serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work.”
The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement saying the country “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.”
It added that Khashoggi’s killing was an “abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the kingdom’s laws and values.
The report notes bin Salman’s “absolute control” of Saudi intelligence and security operations.