The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued a statement Friday rejecting a report from U.S. officials that laid blame on Saudi officials for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” the statement read. The declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered his security detail to “capture or kill” Khashoggi, who was murdered and allegedly dismembered at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey in 2018.
#STATEMENT | The Government of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Completely Rejects the Assessment in the Report Submitted to US’ Congress Regarding Murder of Saudi Citizen Jamal Khashoggi pic.twitter.com/VQwYpBjvvX
— Foreign Ministry ???????? (@KSAmofaEN) February 26, 2021
“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization,” the report said. The Biden administration followed up the report by placing sanctions on a former top Saudi intelligence official, as well as the country’s “Rapid Intervention Force.”
Notably absent from the sanctions was bin Salman, whom President Joe Biden reportedly did not want to sanction for fear it would harm relations between the two countries. Biden has already signaled a slightly harsher stance toward the Saudi regime than his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, by referring to Saudi King Salman as a “counterpart.” (RELATED: Ilhan Omar Wants To Know Why Syrian Airstrikes Were Authorized Without Congressional Approval)
A Saudi court sentenced eight individuals allegedly involved in Khashoggi’s murder in 2020. “It is truly unfortunate that this report, with its unjustified and inaccurate conclusions, is issued while the Kingdom had clearly denounced this heinous crime, and the Kingdom’s leadership took the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy never takes place again,” Friday’s statement read.
The statement still stressed that Washington and Riyadh are on good terms, though: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America is a robust and enduring partnership,” it said.