Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, puts down a pen after signing an agreement with SoftBank Group Corp. chairman Masayoshi Son, not pictured, in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)

CIA Believes Saudi Crown Prince Ordered Khashoggi Hit: WaPo

(Bloomberg) -- The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, Washington Post reports, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

  • The agency examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman had with Khashoggi
    • Khalid bin Salman is the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., he’s said to have told Khashoggi to go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents he needed for his planned marriage, and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so
    • It is not clear if Khalid bin Salman knew that Khashoggi would be killed
    • Khalid bin Salman responded to the Washington Post’s story in a tweet, said the last contact he had with Khashoggi was via text message on Oct. 26, 2017, and that he never spoke to him by phone and never suggested he go to Turkey "for any reason"
  • Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, said the ambassador and Khashoggi never discussed “anything related to going to Turkey”: Post
    • Said the claims in CIA’s “purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations”
  • The CIA’s conclusion about MBS’s role also based on agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom
    • “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” according to an unidentified U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions
  • A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment to the Washington Post
  • CIA’s conclusion contradicts Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor, who said the Crown Prince had no knowledge of the mission that led to Khashoggi’s killing

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