Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister rejected media reports that the CIA believes the country’s crown prince ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said Turkish statements on the matter is not targeting Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
“We in the kingdom know that such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth and we categorically reject them, whether through leaks or not,” Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published on Tuesday.
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“They are leaks that have not been officially announced, and I have noticed that they are based on an assessment, not conclusive evidence,” he added.
Khashoggi, a US-based Washington Post columnist who was a critic of the Saudi government run by the crown prince, was killed on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi officers who had travelled from their country to intercept him.
Al-Jubeir also said in his remarks to Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat that Ankara had reassured Riyadh that when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the killing was ordered at the highest level of the Saudi leadership, “the crown prince was not the intended (target) of these comments”.
“The leadership of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (the king) and the crown prince, is a red line, and we will not permit attempts to harm or undermine them,” he added.
Riyadh’s changing narratives
After offering numerous contradictory explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh recently said he had been killed and his body dismembered when “negotiations” to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
The CIA believes the Saudi prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi, sources told the US media last week, complicating US President Donald Trump‘s efforts to preserve ties with a key ally.
A Saudi public prosecutor said last week that the country would seek the death penalty for five suspects in the case.
Shaalan al-Shaalan said that 21 people were now in custody, with 11 indicted and referred to trial, adding that Saud al-Qahtani, a former adviser to the royal court, had been banned from travelling and remained under investigation.
The statement was dismissed as inadequate by Ankara, which seeks extradition of the Saudi suspects.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, criticised the Saudi announcement and insisted the killing was “premeditated”.
“Turkish law is applicable in this case, even though the murder took place in the Saudi consulate,” he said, demanding that all the suspects be “tried in accordance with Turkish law” in Turkey.