‘Hold MBS accountable’: World reacts to US Khashoggi report

US intelligence agencies have concluded in a new report that slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by a Saudi hit squad operating under the command of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The unclassified report released on Friday confirmed the role top US intelligence officials believe Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler played in the 2018 killing of Khashoggi.

“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 Office of US Director of National Intelligence said.

“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organisations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorisation.”

The 59-year-old was a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper who had been critical of the Saudi government. He was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Saudi officials have denied MBS had any role in the assassination.

Here is how the world reacted to the release of the four-page report.

Saudi Foreign Ministry:

In a statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said: “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.”

United Arab Emirates:

The UAE defended Saudi Arabia’s position, reported UAE’s state news agency WAM on Saturday.

The UAE’s foreign ministry “expressed its confidence in and support for the Saudi judiciary rulings, which affirm the kingdom’s commitment to implementing the law in a transparent and impartial manner, and holding all those involved in this case accountable”, WAM said.

United Kingdom:

The British foreign office reiterated the United Kingdom has always been clear that “Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was a terrible crime”.

In a statement, it said: “We called for a thorough, credible and transparent investigation to hold those responsible to account and imposed sanctions against 20 Saudis involved in the murder.

“The Foreign Secretary raised the issue during his visit to Riyadh last year, and we continue to raise it in our engagements with the Saudi government.”

UN Human Rights Investigator Agnes Callamard:

In a Facebook post, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the US should lead in ensuring accountability.

“With the release of the US report, confirming Saudi officials’ culpability at the highest levels, the United States should now take the lead in ensuring accountability for this crime and for setting in place the international mechanisms to prevent and punish such acts in the future,” Callamard wrote.

“The United States government should impose sanctions against the Crown Prince, as it has done for the other perpetrators – targeting his personal assets but also his international engagements,” she added.

“I call on the government of Saudi Arabia to disclose whether his remains were destroyed onsite or how and where they were disposed. The individuals responsible know only too well the specifics and, in the face of the Saudis’ unconscionable silence, the international community must exert pressure for full disclosure of all the facts.”

Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the US government to re-evaluate its relations with Saudi Arabia.

“The United States government must re-evaluate and recalibrate the relationship with Saudi Arabia, given the findings of this report, which are part of a disturbing pattern of human rights abuses from the Kingdom,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“The United States Congress stands with President Biden in promoting transparency relating to human rights abuses and in supporting partnerships that advance our security, uphold our values and protect our interests. We support the steps being taken by the Administration to hold Saudi Arabia accountable, including related to Global Magnitsky and visa denials for human rights abusers.”


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