Jamal Khashoggi: CIA 'blames Saudi prince for murder'
The CIA believes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to US media reports.
Sources close to the agency said it had assessed the evidence in detail.
It is understood there is no “smoking gun” but US officials think such an operation would need the prince’s approval.
Saudi Arabia has called the claim false and insisted that the crown prince knew nothing about plans for the killing.
Meanwhile, US Vice-President Mike Pence vowed on Saturday to hold Khashoggi’s killers to account.
Speaking on the sidelines of a summit in Papua New Guinea, he said the US was “determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder”.
The journalist was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. His body has not been found.
Turkey insists the order to kill him came from the highest levels.
The Washington Post, which Khashoggi worked for, says the CIA assessment was based partly on a phone call made by the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khaled bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US.
Prince Khaled allegedly called Khashoggi at the direction of his brother and gave him assurances that he would be safe to go to the consulate.
Prince Khaled, now back in Saudi Arabia, said on Twitter that he had not been in contact with Khashoggi for nearly a year. He said he had never suggested Khashoggi – who had been in London for a conference until the day before his disappearance – should go to Turkey for any reason.
This denial is being carried prominently in Saudi media, the BBC’s Sebastian Usher in Riyadh reports.
Neither the White House nor the US State Department has commented on the reports, but sources say they have been informed of the CIA’s conclusions.
It is understood agents have also examined a call made to a senior aide of Crown Prince bin Salman by the team that carried out the killing.
Sources quoted in the US media stressed that there was no single piece of evidence linking the crown prince directly to the murder, but officials believe such an operation would have needed his approval.
“The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” the Washington Post quoted a source as saying. (BBC)