- The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2021

Saudi Arabia is bluntly rejecting a declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday by the Biden administration implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, in the gruesome October 2018 killing of U.S.-based Saudi dissident journalist Ahmad Khashoggi.

U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that MBS, as the 35-year-old prince is widely known, had to have been aware of the mission carried out by a large number of top Saudi officials targeting Khashoggi on a visit to Istanbul, although the report said it was not clear if the aim was to kill Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the prince, or merely to capture him and take him back to Riyadh.

“The government of 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 Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement carried on the official government news service Friday.

Calling Khashoggi’s death an “abhorrent crime,” the ministry added, “This crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations and authorities of the agencies where they were employed.” 

“The relevant authorities in the kingdom took all possible measures within our legal system to ensure that these individuals were properly investigated, and to ensure that justice was served. The concerned individuals were convicted and sentenced by the courts in the Kingdom, and these sentences were welcomed by the family of Jamal Khashoggi,” the statement continued.

Like the Biden administration, the Saudi ministry expressed hope the bilateral relationship can survive the serious strains sparked in part by the Khashoggi case. The State Department said Friday is was imposing new visa restrictions on dozens of Saudi officials in the wake of the intelligence report’s release.

“We look forward to maintaining the enduring foundations that have shaped the framework of the resilient strategic partnership between the Kingdom and the United States,” the Saudi statement concluded.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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