Murdered Saudi Arabian writer Jamal Khashoggi and a group of journalists were named, collectively, as “Time Magazine’s” 2018 Person of the Year.
WASHINGTON – The State Department labeled Jamal Khashoggi’s murder a human rights violation committed by Saudi Arabian government agents in a new report released Wednesday.
But the report, which details human rights abuses around the world, makes no mention of the likely role that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman, played in the Washington Post columnist’s death.
And the State Department’s top human rights official declined to say what role, if any, the CIA’s assessment of the case played in the account of Khashoggi’s death. The CIA has concluded that the crown prince directed Khashsoggi’s murder, according to multiple lawmakers briefed by the agency’s director Gina Haspel.
FILE – In this Dec. 15, 2014, file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. An independent U.N. human rights expert says authorities in Saudi Arabia quietly held a second court hearing for 11 people facing charges over the killing of Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File) (Photo: The Associated Press)
“When we do these reports, we seek all relevant sources of information including U.S. intelligence information,” Ambassador Michael Kozak, who leads the State Department’s Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Bureau, told reporters Wednesday during a briefing on the annual report mandated by Congress. Kozak said he would not discuss what intelligence information he and other officials reviewed with respect to Saudi Arabia or any other country.
In its account of Khashoggi’s death, the State Department report says that Saudi government agents “carried out the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2.” Khashoggi had been a fierce critic of the crown prince, who is the country’s de facto ruler.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has “pledged to hold all individuals involved accountable, regardless of position or rank” and 11 suspects have been indicted by the kingdom’s public prosecutor’s office, the human rights report notes. But the Saudi government has not yet publicly named any of those 11 suspects or provided any detailed account of where its investigation stands.
“In other cases the government did not punish officials accused of committing human rights abuses, contributing to an environment of impunity,” the report states.
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