Khashoggi killers must be 'held to account' - Pence

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

Privately, aides said, Trump has been shown evidence of the prince's involvement but is still sceptical he ordered the killing.

That story was first reported on by The Washington Post.

In a statement on Thursday, the public prosecutor's office said a team who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, "forcibly restrained him and injected him with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death".

The CIA examined multiple intelligence sources, the Post said, among them a phone call between the prince's brother - the Saudi ambassador to the United States - and Khashoggi.

It was claimed Prince Khalid made the call, on orders of the Crown Prince, to Khashoggi to tell him to travel to the Istanbul consulate to retrieve the documents, telling him it would be safe to visit.

He said he had never suggested Khashoggi - who had been in London for a conference until the day before his disappearance - should go to Turkey for any reason.

The call from Khalid bin Salman to Khashoggi was made "at his brother's direction", according to The Post, though it is unclear if Khalid bin Salman knew that the journalist would be killed.

The CIA other sources like an audio clip recorded by a device placed inside the Saudi consulate by Turkish authorities.

This week, the Treasury Department levied sanctions on seventeen individuals who are said to be involved in Khashoggi's death.

The Saudi government has denied the claim.

"Khashoggi's desperate attempts to survive could be heard in a seven minute audio recording".

One U.S. official familiar with the CIA's conclusions told the newspaper that the agency's "accepted position is that there is no way this happened without [the crown prince] being aware or involved". Saudi Arabia's top diplomat has said the crown prince had "absolutely" nothing to do with it.

But he was then tortured and murdered inside the consulate.

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Prince Khalid took to Twitter on Friday to dispute the report.

A United States official told the Washington Post: "The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved".

Government officials do not believe there is a metaphorical "smoking gun" that explicitly ties MBS to the murder. In the tightly controlled Arab Kingdom, no "rogue operations" happen, as the Saudi government has claimed in the past. Meanwhile the glaring inconsistencies in the official Saudi explanations have only deepened suspicions of a state-sponsored cover-up.

Salah Khashoggi (3rd right), the son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and his relatives receive mourners at an events hall in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on November 16, 2018. Some of the 15 members have served on his security team and travelled in the U.S. during visits by senior Saudi officials, including the crown prince, according to passport records. It's a awful tape. Instead of bringing the journalist back, he was given a lethal injection, his body was dismembered, and the body (which has still not been recovered) was handed over to a "local collaborator".

Five Saudi suspects among 11 people charged by Riyadh over the death could face the death penalty.

If not, the Central Intelligence Agency finding is the first direct confirmation of the crown prince's involvement after Turkey said the order to kill came from the highest level in the kingdom.

Trump told reporters before he left the White House for California that, when it came to the crown prince, "as of this moment we were told that he did not play a role. I'll be doing that while I'm on the plane", Trump told reporters at the White House before departing on a flight to California.

Saudi Arabia is America's most important ally in the Middle-East, particularly for countering Iran.

But he also added the USA wanted to find a way of preserving a "strong and historic partnership" with Saudi Arabia.

The CIA sees Mohammed as a "good technocrat", they said, but volatile and arrogant, someone who "goes from zero to 60, doesn't seem to understand that there are some things you can't do". "They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of job and economic development", according to the CNN reports.

The Trump administration this week sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing.

Trump has called the killing a botched operation that was carried out very poorly and has said 'the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups'.

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