In an interview with Al Sharq Al Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir dismissed the allegations that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had orchestrated the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as ‘false’.
“We in the kingdom know that such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth and we categorically reject them, whether through leaks or not. There are leaks that have not been officially announced, and I have noticed that they are based on an assessment, not conclusive order,” the foreign minister was cited as saying.
Jubeir also commented on earlier remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the order came from ‘the highest levels’ of the Saudi government but certainly not from Saudi King Salman:
“We have already asked the Turkish authorities at the highest level about the meaning of these comments, and they confirmed to us categorically that the crown prince is not meant by these comments. The leadership of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the crown prince, is a red line, and we will not permit attempts to harm or undermine them,” he said.
In a parallel development, Saudi King Salman stood by his son, the crown prince, praising his social and economic reform programme, and lauding efforts of the public prosecution without directly addressing the killing of Khashoggi.
“The kingdom was founded on Islamic principles of justice and equality, and we are proud of the efforts of the judiciary and the public prosecution. We ensure that this country will never deviate from implementing God’s law without discrimination,” he said, while delivering his annual address to the Shura Council on Monday.
Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that the CIA had concluded that Prince Salman had ordered to kill Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.
A spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, immediately denounced the newspaper’s allegations as ‘false’, while both President Donald Trump and the State Department said that the final conclusions of the case are yet to be made.
“They [the CIA] haven’t assessed anything yet, it’s too early,” Trump said.
Saudi authorities have consistently denied the royal family’s involvement, describing the murder as a ‘rogue operation’. They have detained 21 suspects, having charged 11 of them and demanded the death penalty for five of the accused.
On 15 November, the Saudi Prosecutor General’s Office announced that Khashoggi died in the consulate after being 'forcibly restrained, and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death'.