US lawmakers on Tuesday vowed to force the release of an intelligence report on the killing of Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, accusing US President Donald Trump of blocking it to protect the kingdom.
The US Congress last year ordered the director of national intelligence to name who ordered the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident who had written critically in the Washington Post of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
However, the intelligence chief said that the information should remain classified to avoid hurting national security.
“The administration has not even attempted to make the case to us that this would cause that kind of harm,” said US Representative Tom Malinowski, who had led the push for the report.
“What they are really afraid of, I think, is extremely plain — they are afraid of embarrassing somebody who has a close personal relationship with President Trump and the Trump administration,” Malinowski told reporters.
He was joined by Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who said ht a declassified report could answer “critical questions,” such as who ordered his killing and where his remains were disposed.
“The first step to find justice for Jamal is to know the truth,” she said.
US Senator Ron Wyden said that he would invoke a section of a 1976 law that allows the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on which he serves, to declassify a report.
If the committee votes to release it, Trump would have five days to present objections in writing, after which the full US Senate — controlled by his Republican Party — could vote to defy him.
“This has been a total and complete cover-up,” Wyden said. “If our country and our friends and our partners do nothing in the face of this barbaric act, it sends a message around the world that it is open season on journalists.”
Khashoggi was lured into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where, according to Turkish and US officials, he was strangled to death and his body cut apart with a bone saw.
The Trump administration has imposed visa restrictions on Saudi Arabians accused of involvement, but has said that the murder would not jeopardize relations, with the president hailing the kingdom for its purchases of US weapons and shared hostility to Iran.
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