Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told a senior aide he would go after Jamal Khashoggi “with a bullet” a year before the journalist was killed inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, according to a US media report.
US intelligence understood that Mohammed, the kingdom’s 33-year-old de facto ruler, was ready to kill the journalist, although he might not have literally meant to shoot him, the New York Times reported.
After initially denying any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the kingdom has acknowledged that a team killed him inside the diplomatic mission, but described it as a rogue operation that did not involve the crown prince.
The conversation was intercepted by US intelligence agencies, as part of routine efforts by the US National Security Agency and other agencies to capture and store the communications of global leaders, including allied ones, the newspaper reported.
However, it was only recently transcribed because of mounting efforts by US intelligence to find conclusive proof linking Prince Mohammed to the killing.
The conversation took place between the crown prince and an aide, Turki Aldakhil, in September 2017 — about 13 months before the killing, the paper said.
Prince Mohammed said that if Khashoggi could not be enticed to return to Saudi Arabia, then he should be brought back by force.
If neither method worked, then he would go after Khashoggi “with a bullet,” the paper reported.
The report came after a UN official looking into the case said that the Saudi Arabian government “seriously curtailed and undermined” the Turkish investigation into the murder of Khashoggi.
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard said that Khashoggi was the victim of a “brutal, premeditated killing planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia.”
He was lured into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on the promise of being given documents that would help him remarry. Inside he was suffocated and dismembered, a Turkish investigation said.
In a preliminary report, Callamard said that she had heard “parts of the chilling and gruesome audio material obtained and retained by the Turkish intelligence agency.”
Callamard said that Turkey’s efforts to carry out a proper investigation had “been seriously curtailed and undermined by Saudi Arabia.”
“Woefully inadequate time and access was granted to Turkish investigators to conduct a professional and effective crime scene examination and search required by international standards for investigation,” she said.
Callamard is to deliver a final report to the UN Human Rights Council in June.
On Thursday, she provided an assessment of her visit to Turkey from Monday last week to Sunday to pursue the investigation.
She said that Saudi Arabian killers had exploited diplomatic immunity to carry out the murder.
“Guarantees of immunity were never intended to facilitate the commission of a crime and exonerate its authors of their criminal responsibility or to conceal a violation of the right to life,” Callamard said. “The circumstances of the killing and the response by state representatives in its aftermath may be described as ‘immunity for impunity.’”
US intelligence chiefs have told the US Congress that the prince almost certainly ordered the killing or was aware of it, but US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have said that the evidence is incomplete and investigations would continue.
Riyadh has denied that the Prince Mohammed was involved.
The Saudi Arabian public prosecutor has charged 11 men with the murder, saying last month that he would seek the death penalty for five.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,