Khashoggi murder 'happened under my watch,' says Saudi crown prince

Comments come ahead of one year anniversary of journalist's murder in Istanbul consulate

Stephen Kalin
Thursday 26 September 2019 13:05
Comments
MBS speaks about his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Arabia's crown prince said he bears responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by Saudi operatives "because it happened under my watch", according to a PBS documentary to be broadcast next week.

Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, has denied a direct role in the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The CIA and some Western governments have said he ordered it, but Saudi officials say he had no role.

The death sparked a global uproar, tarnishing the crown prince's image and imperilling ambitious plans to diversify the economy of the world's top oil exporter and open up cloistered Saudi society. He has not since visited the United States or Europe.

"It happened under my watch. I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch," he told PBS' Martin Smith, according to a preview of a documentary, The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

The documentary is set to air on 1 October, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi's death.

After initial denials, the official Saudi narrative blamed the murder on rogue operatives.

The public prosecutor said the then-deputy intelligence chief ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a royal insider who became an outspoken critic, but the lead negotiator ordered him killed after discussions for his return failed.

Saud al-Qahtani, a former top royal adviser whom Reuters reported gave orders over Skype to the killers, briefed the hit team on Khashoggi's activities before the operation, the prosecutor said.

Asked how the killing could happen without him knowing about it, Mr Smith quotes the prince as saying: "We have 20 million people. We have three million government employees."

When asked whether the killers could have taken private government jets, the crown prince responded: "I have officials, ministers to follow things, and they're responsible. They have the authority to do that."

Mr Smith describes the December exchange, which apparently took place off camera, in the preview of the documentary.

A senior US administration official told Reuters in June the Trump administration was pressing Riyadh for "tangible progress" towards holding to account those behind the killing ahead.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Eleven Saudi suspects have been put on trial in secretive proceedings but only a few hearings have been held.

A UN report has called for Prince Mohammed and other senior Saudi officials to be investigated.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding. His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.

Reuters

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in