Buenos Aires: United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has said that there is no “direct evidence” which could link Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
While reiterating Washington’s support for Riyadh amid a global outcry over Saudi Crown Prince’s possible involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, Pompeo told CNN in an interview on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, “I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government. And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is an accurate statement, it is an important statement, and it is a statement that we are making publicly today.”
Replying to a question on Saturday on whether the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a “high confidence” of the Saudi crown prince’s alleged involvement, the US Secretary of State underlined, “I can’t comment on intelligence matters.”
Last month, Pompeo seconded that Saudi Arabia is an important ally of the US, especially to take control of Iran, secure Iraq’s democracy and to fight the Islamic State terrorists and other armed groups. His remarks came despite the CIA’s announcement that the Saudi crown prince had ordered the murder of Khashoggi.
On October 2, Khashoggi was reported missing after he stepped into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to collect paperwork that would allow him to get married to his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who later said that he never appeared from the building.
After days of denial, Saudi Arabia later confirmed its role in Khashoggi’s killing after facing massive pressure from Turkey over their investigations on the issue. But their contradictory statements have led to international uproar led by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has demanded Riyadh to come clean and accept their role in the scribe’s death.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had admitted that the murder of the scribe was “a mistake and a rogue operation.”
Recently, the Donald Trump administration slapped sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals allegedly involved in Khashoggi’s killing. Other countries, such as Canada and France also followed the suit.
Khashoggi, who relocated to the US from Saudi Arabia last year, used to write articles for The Washington Post, criticising the Saudi government.