Saudi Arabia rejects US intelligence report on Khashoggi death

Saudi Arabia have rejected a report by US intelligence agencies released on Friday that assigns accountability to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The US intelligence community report concluded MBS “approved an operation” to capture or kill the Saudi journalist in Istanbul, Turkey.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. His body has never been recovered.

“This was an abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the Kingdom’s laws and values,” the ministry statement said.

“This crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations and authorities of the agencies where they were employed,” the statement added.

“The concerned individuals were convicted and sentenced by the courts in the kingdom and these sentences were welcomed by the family of Jamal Khashoggi.”

The four-page US report, required by Congress, had been held back from public view by former President Donald Trump but was released by new President Joe Biden who had pledged during his 2020 political campaign to hold the Saudis accountable for Khashoggi’s murder.

US spy agencies, including the CIA, based their assessment of MBS’s role on his “control of decision making” and the “direct involvement of a key adviser” and members of his “protective detail” in the operation.

Saudi Arabia has long denied MBS had direct knowledge of Khashoggi’s murder.

After the report’s release on Friday, the Biden administration officials announced travel bans on 76 Saudi nationals and imposed financial sanctions on several others.