Prince Mohammed bin Salman 'talked of a bullet for Khashoggi'

Arturo Kim
February 9, 2019

United States intelligence services intercepted communications in which the Saudi leader said he would use "a bullet" against the Washington Post columnist if he did not stop publishing unflattering reports about the regime, The New York Times reported.

Hatice Cengiz, Mr Khashoggi's fiancee, said Friday that she hopes King Salman, the crown prince's father, "has a conscience" and supports Turkey's investigation into the killing. The request, made October 10 in a letter signed by 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators, required the administration to make a determination of responsibility for the killing, particularly including involvement by the Saudi royal family, and to act on it by imposing sanctions on responsible individuals.

Despite the fact that both Turkish and American intelligence officials suspected from the beginning that the Saudi prince was behind the murder, Trump has been reluctant to acknowledge it.

She said: "Evidence collected during my mission to Turkey shows prime facie case that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia".

"President Trump has steadfastly insisted the US-Saudi relationship is more important than establishing accountability for murder", said Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC.

A demonstrator holds picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 5, 2018.

The brutal killing - described by Turkish and USA officials as an elaborate plot - has drawn an global outcry about press freedom and Saudi government tactics to quell criticism.

The "complete lack of transparency" from Saudi officials on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is deeply concerning and detrimental to their credibility, President Erdogan's aide said.

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The discovery of the crown prince's statement was made as the National Security Agency and other USA spy agencies are reviewing years of intercepted Saudi voice and text communications.

Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shortly after he entered the diplomatic facility on October 2.

He confirmed that Prince Mohammed's former aide, Saud Al Qahtani, had been dismissed but said he did not know the whereabouts of another former aide Maher Mutreb.

Agnes Callamard, a United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial measures, said that Saudi authorities had a held a secret second hearing in the men's cases without releasing any details of the proceedings.

Callamard also voiced her concerns over the legitimacy of legal proceedings in Saudi against 11 individuals facing the death penalty if found "guilty" of the journalist's murder.

Riyadh, after denying the killing for two weeks, eventually described it as a "rogue" operation but denied any involvement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"I think that's what intelligence agencies do", he said.

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