The CIA has not concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Hashoghi, President Donald Trump has revealed.
Jamal Hashoghi was killed on October 2nd at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
However, officials told the media that such an operation would require the approval of the heir to the throne, and Saudi Arabia said it was a “fraudulent operation”.
Asked about the CIA report by reporters in Florida, President Trump said: “They didn’t conclude.”
The president’s comments came on November 21st when the Saudi heir to the throne embarked on a regional tour of the Middle East, beginning with the United Arab Emirates, his first official trip abroad since the assassination of Jamal Hashoghi.
Prince Mohammed is also expected to attend a G20 summit of world leaders in Buenos Aires later this month, which will be attended by leaders from the United States, Turkey and a number of European countries.
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France, meanwhile, has said it is imposing sanctions on 18 Saudi nationals – the same individuals who have been sanctioned by the United States, Britain and Germany – allegedly linked to Hashoghi’s assassination.
Their list of faces does not include Prince Mohammed, said a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry.
President Trump told reporters in Florida: “They feel in certain ways. I have the report, they are not over, I do not know if anyone will be able to conclude the heir to the throne.
He added: “But whether he did it or not, he vehemently denies it. His father vehemently denies the king. “
Earlier this week, however, President Trump issued a statement suggesting that Prince Mohammed “very well” may have known about the incident.
The president’s statement said: “[It] it may turn out that the heir to the throne knew about this tragic event – he may or may not have! “
He has repeatedly stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia to the United States since the assassination, calling Saudi Arabia a “steadfast partner” who has agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in the United States.
Last week, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters that President Trump had confidence in the CIA after talks with Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Hashoghi’s assassination.
Sources quoted in the American media at the time stressed that there was no evidence linking the heir to the throne directly to the assassination, but officials believe the assassination would require his approval.
Separately, Hurriyet A newspaper reported on Thursday that Director Haspel had told Turkish authorities last month that the CIA had a record in which the heir to the throne instructed Jamal Hashoghi to “shut up” as soon as possible.
Asked about reporters’ allegations, President Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about it. You’ll have to ask them.”
Saudi Arabia claims that the allegations that the heir to the throne may have ordered Hashoghi’s assassination are untrue and claims that he knew nothing about it.
As a prominent journalist, Jamal Hashoghi covered important stories, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama bin Laden for various Saudi news organizations.
For decades, Jamal Hashoghi has been close to the Saudi royal family and has also served as a government adviser.
However, he fell into disfavor and went into self-imposed exile in the United States last year. From there, Jamal Hashoghi wrote a monthly column in Washington Post in which he criticizes the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In your first column for Washington PostJamal Hashoghi said he feared he would be arrested in the face of apparent repression against the dissent, controlled by the prince ever since.
In his latest column, Jamal Hashoghi criticized Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the conflict in Yemen.