The former fiancée of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi says the heir to the Saudi throne “should be punished without delay” after a U.S. intelligence report published by the Biden administration pinned the blame on him for the writer’s brutal murder. The intelligence report, which was compiled months ago but only made public on Friday by the White House, concludes that “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
CBS News’ Margaret Brennan and Ed O’Keefe reported that the Biden administration is preparing to institute a new policy aimed at punishing future attacks by foreign governments on journalists working for U.S. news outlets. The U.S. Treasury said separately that it would hit one Saudi military unit and an ex-intelligence official from the country with sanctions for their roles in Khashoggi’s murder.
But the White House is not planning to sanction the crown prince, often known by his initials MBS, individually.
Bin Salman has already taken over many of the duties of running the conservative Islamic kingdom from his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Saudi Arabia has for decades been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East — a strategic partner helping to keep its arch rival, Iran, in check. The Kingdom is also the biggest buyer of American-made military hardware.
Khashoggi intelligence report released
Khashoggi was brutally murdered in 2018 after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on the pretense of collecting documentation for his planned marriage to Turkish national Hatice Centiz.
His former fiancée has campaigned for justice since the murder, and the measures announced thus far by Washington to hold the Saudi royal to account for his actions have clearly left her wanting.
“It is essential that the Crown Prince, who ordered the brutal murder of a blameless and innocent person, should be punished without delay,” Cengiz said in a message posted to Twitter. “If the Crown Prince is not punished, it will forever signal that the main culprit can get away with murder which will endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity.
“Starting with the Biden administration, it is vital for all world leaders to ask themselves if they are prepared to shake hands with a person whose culpability as a murderer has been proven,” she said.
Khashoggi had close connections to some members of the Saudi royal court, but he had become a harsh critic of the ascendant crown prince with his work for The Washington Post and other American outlets.
MBS on Khashoggi in 2019
CBS News reported in 2018 that the CIA had concluded MBS ordered Khashoggi’s death, according to a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence. The crown prince has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s killing. In a 2019 “60 Minutes” interview, Norah O’Donnell specifically asked him whether he’d ordered the killing.
The Crown Prince responded: “Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”