A U.S. intelligence report expected to be released on Thursday finds out that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has approved the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, said four U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
Officials say the report, of which the CIA was a major donor, examined the crown prince’s approval and may have ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, whose Washington Post columnist criticized the crown prince’s policies.
President Joe Biden, the Republican successor to Donald Trump five weeks ago, told reporters on Wednesday that he had read the report and was expected to speak soon by telephone to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, 85, the father of a 35-year-old de facto governor.
The release of this report is part of Biden’s policy of re-establishing relations with Riyadh after years of providing an Arab partner and major oil producer to pass on its human rights record and its involvement in the Yemeni civil war.
Biden is working to restore relations with Riyadh on traditional lines after four years of cozier relations under Trump.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that Biden would only contact the Saudi king and that Khashoggi’s report was out of date.
While Biden was blocking his contact with the king, some Biden officials spoke with Saudi officials at various levels.
The State Department spokesman Ned Price that they have been in contact with Saudi officials on many levels in the first weeks of this regime.
The 59-year-old Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, was lured to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, killed by a team working with liaison officers for the crown prince. Then they buried his body. His body was never found.
Riyadh eventually admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a “fraudulent” campaign to oust the aliens, but denied any involvement in the crown prince. Five men sentenced to death by sentence have been commuted to 20 years in prison after being released by Khashoggi’s family.
In 2019, UN human rights investigator Agnes Callamard accused Saudi Arabia of “intentionally killing” Khashoggi and called for further investigation.
“There is enough physical evidence about the king’s chief who needs an investigation,” Callamard said after a six-month investigation.
A separate version of the report was shared with members of Congress in late 2018.
But Trump’s administration has rejected the demands of lawmakers and human rights groups to issue a reduced form, seeking to maintain co-operation between growing tensions with rival Riyadh region, Iran, and to promote American arms sales to the state.
Biden’s new national intelligence director, Avril Haines, has pledged to abide by the terms of the agreement in the 2019 defense bill that required the Office of the National Director of Intelligence to release within 30 days an unconfirmed report on Khashoggi’s assassination.
Biden promised during the 2020 presidential campaign to renew US-Saudi relations in part on Khashoggi’s assassination. Since taking office, he has eliminated the sale of Riyadh’s offensive weapons in Yemen and appointed a special envoy to intensify political efforts to end the country’s heavy civil war.