Saudi Arabia undermined Khashoggi probe - United Nations expert

Geraldine Edwards
February 9, 2019

U.S. intelligence analysists reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed had likely used the phrase a metaphor, expressing his intention to kill the journalists unless he returned to Saudi Arabia.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made the chilling remark to the aide in a conversation intercepted by American intelligence agencies, The New York Times said, citing both American and foreign officials with knowledge of the agencies' reports.

Callamard also said she asked for an official visit to Saudi Arabia and said she had "major concerns" about the fairness of the legal process for the 11 people facing trial for the journalist's murder.

Ms Callamard said Saudi officials had "seriously undermined" and delayed Turkey's efforts to investigate the crime scene at its Istanbul consulate, where Khashoggi had gone to get papers needed for his wedding.

"Saudi Arabia should not care about worldwide reaction to how it handles its own citizens, the crown prince told Mr al-Qahtani", the NYT report said, citing the intelligence officials.

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United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, said she had heard "chilling and gruesome" audio material about the killing obtained by Turkish investigators.

Khashoggi's body has still not been recovered.

The "complete lack of transparency" from Saudi officials on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is deeply concerning and detrimental to their credibility, President Erdogan's aide said.

Some members of Congress have publicly stated that they suspect the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for the killing, based on the CIA's conclusions.

US intelligence agencies had previously concluded that the crown prince must have at least had knowledge of the plot, leading some members of Congress to call for him to step down as the de facto leader of the country.

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The recording was intercepted at the time by United States intelligence, the Times said.

A group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Thursday renewed their push to penalize Saudi Arabia, unveiled legislation to bar some arms sales and impose sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi's death. "I fully realize we have to deal with bad actors and imperfect situations on the worldwide stage".

Two hearings are known to have been held so far in the case, in which prosecutors have asked for the death penalty for five of the 11 charged.

"For anyone to think that they can dictate what we should do, what our leadership should do, is preposterous", al-Jubeir said.

"I wish this report will accelerate the process so that more concrete things will be done on this situation", Cengiz said.

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