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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Saudi Ambassador to the US disputes Washington Post account of Khashoggi murder

In response to the report, Prince Khalid bin Salman said that serious accusations should not be based solely on anonymous sources

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations in New York. Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations in New York. Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador has denied a report claiming that the CIA has concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month.

The report on Friday by The Washington Post was written almost entirely using anonymous sources, including an unidentified US official.

The newspaper claimed there had been a phone call between the prince’s brother and Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, and Khashoggi, who was a contributing columnist to the paper.

It said Prince Khalid told Khashoggi that “he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so”, and claimed the call was made at the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Khalid took to Twitter on Friday to dispute the report.

“As we told The Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26, 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” he said. “This is a serious accusation and should not be left to anonymous sources.”

Prince Khalid also said that the newspaper did not publish the full response sent to it by a Saudi embassy spokesperson in response to inquiries about the CIA’s alleged findings.

The full version, which he posted on Twitter, reiterates that he had never discussed “anything related to going to Turkey with Jamal”.

“The Ambassador met Jamal once in late September 2017 in person for a cordial discussion, and they communicated via text after the meeting,” the statement read.

“Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with him. You are welcome to check the phone records and cell phone content to corroborate this, in which case, you would have to request it from Turkish authorities; as our Public Prosecutor has numerous times to no avail.”

The statement described the purported CIA assessment as false, and said that there was no concrete evidence to support these “speculations”.

Earlier on Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince had "absolutely" nothing to do with Khashoggi's killing.

His comments came after Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor accused a rogue band of Saudi operatives of the murder.

In a statement on Thursday, the public prosecutor’s office said a team who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, “forcibly restrained him and injected him with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.

“After the murder, the victim’s body was dismembered by the individuals that have committed the murder and was transferred outside the consulate building,” the office said.

Deputy public prosecutor Shaalan told reporters in Riyadh on Thursday that 11 out of 21 suspects detained on suspicion of involvement had been charged with murder.

The public prosecutor’s office has recommended the death penalty for five people who are believed to have ordered and committed the killing.