US To Release Report On Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder That Shows Role Of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince
United Stated is set to release a report of an investigation into the gruesome murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi which is widely expected to show the role of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden has read the report and is due to speak directly to the prince’s 85-year-old Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, despite Mohammed being the de facto ruler in Saudi Arabia.
She expressed that Biden wants to “recalibrate” ties with the US ally, which became closer under former US President Donald Trump, NBC News reports.
Ms Psaki also confirmed the declassified report on Mr Khashoggi’s killing was being readied for release.
The White House added that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – US overseas spy agency – was the main contributor to the report.
According to NBC News, an assessment is thought to find that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing of the Washington Post columnist.
The journalist, known for his criticism of Saudi authorities, went missing after entering Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018 in order to obtain papers allowing him to get married to his Turkish fiancée.
According the Saudi public prosecution, Khashoggi was forcibly restrained after a struggle and injected with a large amount of a drug, resulting in an overdose that led to his death. His body was then dismembered and handed over to a local “collaborator” outside the consulate, the prosecution said. The remains were never found.
However, Prince Mohammed insists he did not have any knowledge of the murder but in 2019 he said he took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government“.
Saudi authorities say Khashoggi’s death and dismemberment was the result of a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to return him to the kingdom.
Following years of investigation and continued call for justice at different levels, the declassified report, which is expected to be released later today, will say that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved “and likely ordered” Khashoggi’s killing, four US officials told Reuters news agency.
The report upon its release is expected to mark a significant shift in US-Saudi relations, which was cosy under Donald Trump’s administration.
The relationship between Saudi and under Donald Trump saw the major oil producing country receive a relaxed ride on human rights issues, its role in Yemen war, and more.
Trump also rejected calls from politicians and human rights groups to release the then-classified report in 2018 when it was first briefed to US Congress.
However, Joe Biden’s administration is looking to shift ties to a more traditional approach, starting with the president’s first phone conversation with Saudi King Salman.
The new administration has already made some major policy changes in that regard, with President Biden ending US support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, and freezing arms sales to the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Khashoggi was once an adviser to Saudi government and close to the royal family, but fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017.
From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Prince Mohammed.
Five men were eventually sentenced to death for the murder, but their sentences were commuted to 20 years in prison after being forgiven by Khashoggi’s family last May.