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Khashoggi Murder ’Happened Under My Watch,’ MBS Prince Tells PBS

Khashoggi Murder ’Happened Under My Watch,’ MBS Prince Tells PBS
folder_openSaudi Arabia access_timeone year ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman [MBS] 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.

MBS, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, has not spoken publicly about the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA and some Western governments have said he ordered it, but Saudi officials claimed he had no role.

The murder sparked a global uproar, tarnishing MBS’ image and imperiling 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,” set to air on Oct. 1, ahead 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, Smith quoted MBS as saying: “We have 20 million people. We have 3 million government employees.”

Smith asked whether the killers could have taken private government jets, to which the crown prince responded: “I have officials, ministers to follow things, and they’re responsible. They have the authority to do that.” Smith describes the December exchange, which apparently took place off camera, in the preview of the documentary.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 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.

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