New York, February 25, 2021 – In response to today’s release of a declassified U.S. intelligence report alleging that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Committee to Protect Journalists released the following statement:
“By releasing this intelligence report, President Joe Biden’s administration has reinforced what we have long believed: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “Now, the U.S. and its allies should sanction the crown prince and other royal court members to show the world that there are tangible consequences for assassinating journalists, no matter who you are.”
The intelligence report, which Reuters previously reported is mainly based on information provided by the C.I.A., assesses that bin Salman approved the murder, based on his previous support for silencing dissidents abroad, the involvement of his personal protective detail in the killing, and bin Salman’s consolidation of power over Saudi Arabia’s security and intelligence services.
In the days after Khashoggi’s murder, The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence had intercepted communications indicating that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi to be detained and rendered from the U.S. back to Saudi Arabia. The next month, the C.I.A. concluded that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing, according to the Post.
The intelligence report states, “although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him.”
CPJ is also leading a lawsuit calling for intelligence agencies to release any documents they have concerning their awareness of threats against Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident at the time of his death, and their duty to warn him.