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U.S. Intelligence Believes Saudi Prince Ordered Khashoggi Killing

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman

U.S. intelligence officials believe Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last month.

The Saudi government denied the claim first reported by the Washington Post late on November 17 and later confirmed by other media, including AP and Reuters.

The report is the clearest U.S. assessment yet to link Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler directly to the killing. It could bolster efforts in Congress to further punish the close U.S. ally for the killing.

The Post, citing people familiar with the matter, said the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment was based in part on a phone call the crown prince's brother, Prince Khaled bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi.

The ambassador denied making such a call in a posting on Twitter on November 17.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said on November 15 that he was seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged in the killing.

The prosecutor, Shalaan al-Shalaan, told reporters the crown prince knew nothing of the operation, in which Khashoggi's body was dismembered and removed from the consulate and handed to a local "collaborator."

Last week, the Trump administration sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but U.S. lawmakers have been calling for tougher measures, including a curtailment of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Based on reporting by The Washington Post, AP, Reuters, and AFP