A U.S. intelligence report blames Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report was released on Friday, a day after President Joe Biden’s first call with Saudi King Salman.
The report found that the crown prince approved of Khashoggi’s murder, which took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Oct. 2018. The Washington Post journalist was a critic of the prince’s consolidation of power in Saudi Arabia. Following his death, Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to twenty years in prison.
The crown prince had previously denied having a role in the plan to capture and kill the journalist, in apparent contradiction of the new intelligence report. However, he said he took "full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government." The Saudi government maintained that “rogue agents” were behind the killing.
The journalist had reportedly visited the consulate to obtain paperwork for his upcoming wedding to his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. At the time of his killing, officials claimed that the journalist, who fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, had left the building. They were later forced to admit that he died on the premises.
It has been widely speculated that the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi’s assassination, but there was no official confirmation until the report was released.
Hours before his death, a 15-man hit squad landed in Turkey, and in November 2018 the CIA assessed “with high confidence” that the Saudi Crown Prince had ordered the assassination, according to CNN.
Biden said that he intends to “recalibrate” the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, due to former President Trump’s apparent refusal to take any tough actions on the killing and potentially jeopardizing the relationship.