CIA believes Saudi crown prince ordered journalist's killing

Relatives of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi receive mourners offering condolences in Jeddah Saudi Arabia on Nov 16 2018

Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

This week, the Treasury Department sanctioned 17 individuals it said were involved in Khashoggi's death, including Qahtani, Mutreb and the Saudi consul general in Turkey, Mohammad al-Otaibi. "As president, I have to take a lot of things into consideration".

Donald Trump has declined to say that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Arabian crown prince, ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite new reports that the Central Intelligence Agency has reached that conclusion.

The CIA's conclusion about Mohammed's role was also based on its assessment of the prince as the country's de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom.

The Post, citing unnamed sources, also reported that USA intelligence agencies reviewed a phone call that the prince's brother, Khalid bin Salman, had with Khashoggi.

U.S. Intelligence reports that Saudi crown prince ordered killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi government denies claims; Kitty Logan reports from London.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 when he went there to pick up documents he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

As Trump flew to California, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would "continue to seek all relevant facts".

"Recent reports indicating that the United States government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate", said Nauert, adding that numerous questions remained "unanswered". Privately, aides said, Trump has been shown evidence of the prince's involvement but remains skeptical that Mohammed ordered the killing.

Trump then went on to hail Saudi Arabia as a "great ally", saying "they give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development".

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The journalist was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to obtain a marriage document.

While the reporting on the CIA's determination that the crown prince was the person who ordered the assassination was new on Friday, it's almost certain-if the assessment by an organization known for lying and misleading is to be believed-that the intelligence on which the agency has based this determination has been available to them-and therefore the president-for some time. He has appeared reluctant to directly criticise the crown prince.

In a statement in response to the Post's story, the Saudi ambassador denied the accuracy of the reporting-claiming he never lured Khashoggi anywhere-and said such a "serious accusation should be not be left to anonymous sources". The official said the intelligence has been briefed at very senior levels.

For more than a month, Trump has struggled to balance his interest in maintaining strong relations with the Saudi government with growing pressure in Congress and around the world to punish the Saudi regime.

At a news conference in Riyadh on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaan said Khashoggi was given a lethal injection and his body was dismembered inside the consulate after his death.

Investigators also believe an operation such as the one that ended in Khashoggi's death would not have happened without bin Salman's knowledge given his control of the government, the senior United States official said.

However, Prince Khalid declared in a tweet that he "certainly never suggested" to Khashoggi that he should go to Turkey.

The spokeswoman went on to call the recent introduction of USA sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act "decisive".

But Turkish officials alleged a 15-man Saudi hit squad carried out the killing.

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