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The US to release murder report of Jamal Khashoggi

The US to release murder report of Jamal Khashoggi

February 26, 2021: The US prepares to release an intelligence report that is expected to implicate the crown prince of Saudi Arabia in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

President Biden has read the report and will speak to the Saudi king soon.

Khashoggi was killed brutally in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The crown prince has denied any involvement.

Saudi authorities say his death was because of a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to return him to the kingdom.

Five individuals were announced death sentences for the murder by a Saudi court, but this was commuted to 20 years in prison last September.

The report released on Thursday will say that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved and ordered to kill Khashoggi, four US officials told Reuters news agency.

 The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was the main contributor to the report, they said.

The Saudi public prosecution and Prince Mohammed insisted that he did not know the murder. Still, in 2019 he said he took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia since individuals committed working for the Saudi government.”

The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi worked, said at the time that the CIA assessment was based partly on a phone call made by the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US at the time of the murder.

Prince Khalid, the present deputy defense minister, allegedly called Khashoggi at his brother’s direction and assured him that it would be safe to go to Istanbul. Prince Khalid has denied any communication with the journalist.

The report’s publication is part of Joe Biden’s policy to realign ties with Saudi Arabia and take a much tougher stance than his predecessor, Donald Trump, on certain Saudi positions.

The Trump administration had previously rejected a legal requirement to release a declassified version of the report, focusing instead on improved co-operation with the Saudis.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Mr. Biden would communicate with King Salman and not directly with the crown prince. The latter is his son and is considered the de facto ruler in Saudi Arabia.

“We’ve made clear from the starting that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” she told reporters.

The new administration has already made some significant policy changes. President Biden ended US support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen and freezing arms sales to the kingdom.

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