Saudi crown prince breaks silence on 'heinous' Khashoggi killing

Glen Norman
October 30, 2018

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, said the White House is still gathering facts on journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing and wants to preserve the US alliance with Saudi Arabia, downplaying the role of the kingdom's government in the death.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the Saudis had been identified in connection with the journalist's death.

He said he had questioned the crown prince about Khashoggi's death, and been told he did not know about the operation when it was being planned.

The Saudi government has claimed he died during a brawl in the consulate, but that explanation has drawn widespread skepticism and it is suspected that Khashoggi was murdered. "And they had the worst cover-up ever", Trump said earlier.

"And they should be in big trouble", he concluded.

The murder of the Washington Post contributor has severely dented the worldwide reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The journalist was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Hariri has maintained good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the crisis that erupted following his surprise resignation from Riyadh months ago.

CIA Director Gina Haspel is now in Turkey and is expected to be back soon in the US.

The US State Department has since said 21 Saudi officials will have their visas revoked or be made ineligible for US visas over Mr Khashoggi's death.

He also said last Wednesday: "I'm not sure yet that it exists".

On Wednesday, the king spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron while Prince Mohammed held his first call since the killing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"It is a disgrace that reaches all the way to Crown Prince (Mohammed bin) Salman".

He did, however, note that the so-called "human rights abuses" in Iran is "no excuse for what happened with Saudi Arabia".

He said some people had been uncomfortable with him sharing evidence regarding the investigation into the killing in his speech on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Trump called the shifting stories over Khashoggi's fate - the crown prince initially said the journalist left the consulate on this own - "one of the worst in the history of cover-ups". Prosecutors said the 18 men were involved in an unsanctioned operation and later attempted to cover up the killing from officials in Riyadh.

U.S. lawmakers have increased their pressure on the Trump administration, accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS and the country's de facto leader, of ordering the killing.

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