US report implicates Saudi crown prince in journalist’s killing

U.S. & World
Mohammed bin Salman

FILE – In this Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, file photo, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a virtual G-20 summit held over video conferencing, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s royal court says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underwent a “successful surgery” for appendicitis on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, and left the hospital soon after the operation. The 35-year-old Prince Mohammed had laparoscopic surgery at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in the morning. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved an operation to kill or capture a U.S.-based journalist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday that could escalate pressure on the Biden administration to hold the kingdom accountable for a murder that drew bipartisan and international outrage.

The central conclusion of the report was widely expected given that intelligence officials were said to have reached it soon after the brutal Oct. 2, 2018, murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s authoritarian consolidation of power.

Still, since the finding had not been officially released until now, the public assignment of responsibility amounted to an extraordinary rebuke of the ambitious 35-year-old crown prince and was likely to set the tone for the new administration’s relationship with a country President Joe Biden has criticized but which the White House also regards in some contexts as a strategic partner.

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