Hyderabad: The latest U.S. intelligence report, which claimed that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to kill or capture journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has drawn reactions from across the world with several people calling for action against the Crown Prince.
A vocal critic of Mohammed Bin Salman, Jamal Khashoggi was mysteriously murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018. The former advisor to the Saudi government and US-based journalist was living in a self-imposed exile since 2017.
In the report, which was made public on Friday, the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated, “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization,” the report said.
However, Saudi rejected the report calling the assessment negative, false and unacceptable. In a statement, the Saudi foreign ministry said, “The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the … assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.”
How the world reacted?
British foreign office said in statement that the UK has always been clear that Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was a terrible crime.
“We called for a thorough, credible and transparent investigation to hold those responsible to account and imposed sanctions against 20 Saudis involved in the murder,” it said.
U.N. Human Rights investigator Agnes Callamard, said that the US should now ensure accountability and impose sanctions against the Crown Prince.
In a Facebook post Agnes wrote, “With the release of the U.S. report, confirming Saudi officials’ culpability at the highest levels, the United States should now take the lead in ensuring accountability for this crime and for setting in place the international mechanisms to prevent and punish such acts in the future.”
“The United States government should impose sanctions against the Crown Prince, as it has done for the other perpetrators – targeting his personal assets but also his international engagements,” Agnes said.
Democratic Congressman Aadam Schiff, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said that the Crown Prince has blood on his hands and that blood belonged to an American resident and journalist, referring to Khashoggi.
“The Biden administration should explore ways to ensure the repercussions for the brutal murder of Mr Khashoggi go beyond those who carried it out, to the one who ordered it — the Crown Prince himself. He has blood on his hands and that blood belonged to an American resident and journalist,” he said.
“The president should not meet with the Crown Prince, or talk with him, and the administration should consider sanctions on assets in the Saudi Public Investment Fund he controls that have any link to the crime,” he added.
Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneu told reporters, “(This) was a murderous act, a despicable act. … We will look at the report that has been issued today but the fact remains that Canada wants the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to allow a full inquiry so we can get to the bottom of what actually happened.”
Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan, while recalling that Khashoggi was a contributing columnist for the Post, asked for accountability.
“Since the day this innocent journalist was brutally murdered, we have called for two important actions: for the facts to come to light and for accountability on the part of those responsible. Today’s release of the report has brought the facts to light. Now, the man who authorized this brutal murder must be held fully accountable for it.” he said.
Who was Jamal Khashoggi?
The 59-year-old was a prominent Saudi Journalist, who covered major stories in his prime years. He became famous for his coverage of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and rise of the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden for various Saudi organizations.
He served as an adviser to the Saudi government and for decades he was close to the royal family before his luck ran out and he went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017.
He then wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post where he criticized the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the son of King Salman and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. Kashoggi mentioned he feared being arrested in an apparent crackdown on dissent overseen by the prince in his first column for the post in September 2017.
On 28th September, Khashoggi first visited The Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a Saudi document stating that he was divorced so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. He was told he would have to return to pick up the document and arranged to come back on 2nd October.
Jamal Khashoggi never came out of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkish authorities and CIA accuse Saudi Intelligence of killing him inside the Saudi consulate.