Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is likely to have been approved by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, according to a newly declassified US intelligence report released on Friday that made the Biden administration hold the kingdom accountable, Associated Press reported.
The intelligence findings were long known to US officials but remained classified “but the public rebuke of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is still a touchstone in U.S-Saudi relations. It leaves no doubt that as the prince continues in his powerful role and likely ascends to the throne, Americans will forever associate him with the brutal killing of a journalist who promoted democracy and human rights”, AP reported.
According to Associated Press, Even if the Biden administration released the findings, it will remain determined to preserve the Saudi relationship by avoiding direct punishment of the crown prince despite demands from congressional democrats for sanctions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the approach,
“What we’ve done by the actions we’ve taken is not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values,” he said. “I think that we have to understand as well that this is bigger than any one person.” AP quoted Antony Blinked.
US Office of National Intelligence directorate concluded the case that the kill or capture operation on Khashoggi was based on approval of the prince inside Saudi Arabia, he was facilitated by his key adviser and members of his protective detail for violently silencing dissidents abroad.
As intelligence officials stopped talking about the prince ordering the murder of Khashoggi, the document released indicates Mohammed bin Salman’s full control of the intelligence.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry responded by saying the kingdom “categorically rejects the offensive and incorrect assessment in the report pertaining to the kingdom’s leadership” AP reported.
Shortly after the released report, State Department announced a new policy called the “Khashoggi Ban” that will allow the US to deny visas to people who harm, threaten or spy on journalists on behalf of a foreign government and it would also impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudis involved in threatening dissidents abroad.
Reuters reported that the Biden administration announced sanctions and visa bans on Friday targeting Saudi citizens over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but stopped imposing sanctions on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman himself.