U.S. REPORT LINKS SAUDI CROWN TO KHASHOGGI MURDER
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a newly declassified US intelligence report released Friday (Saturday, February 27, 2021, in Manila) that instantly ratcheted up pressure on the Biden administration to hold the kingdom accountable for a murder that drew worldwide outrage.
The intelligence findings were long known to many US officials and, even as they remained classified, had been reported with varying degrees of precision. But the public rebuke of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is still a touchstone in US Saudi relations.
It leaves no doubt that as the prince continues in his powerful role and likely ascends to the throne, Americans will forever associate him with the brutal killing of a journalist who promoted democracy and human rights, Eric Tucker and Aamer Madhani reported for the Associated Press (AP).
“The world was horrified” by the journalist’s murder, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after the report’s release. He added the administration would respond with a “Khashoggi ban” — a move that would effectively block from entering the US any individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign country, are engaged in “extraterritorial counter-dissident activities.”
He then placed 76 Saudis on the list, including many who were involved in operations to kidnap or intimidate other Saudi dissidents overseas, Brittany Shepherd and Michael Ishikoff reported for Yahoo News on February 27.
Questioned by reporters, Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the US approach. “What we’ve done by the actions we’ve taken is not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values,” he said. “I think that we have to understand as well that this is bigger than any one person.”