Saudi Crown Prince Approved, Likely Ordered Khashoggi Murder, U.S. Intel Report Shows

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved of an operation to capture or kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in 2018, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment released on Friday as the United States sanctioned some of those involved but not the crown prince himself.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of the crown prince's policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the crown prince in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia said it rejected completely "the negative, false and unacceptable" assessment of the U.S. intelligence report.

"The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the …. assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom's leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

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In light of the report U.S. Secretary of State Blinken announced the State Department's "Khashoggi Ban," a visa restriction policy "on individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities."

Previewing the announcement, U.S. officials had said the sanctions and visa bans would not target the crown prince.

"We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in the report posted on its website.