In response to comments made by the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post earlier this month where he said that the order to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir clarified that the Turkish government had “affirmed that these statements were not made in reference to the Crown Prince.”
In an interview with Ashaq Al-Awsat newspaper, Majalla’s sister publication, the foreign minister said that the Kingdom appreciates Turkey’s cooperation in forming the Joint Task Force but highlighted that the Saudi Public Prosecution was yet to receive the detailed evidence contained in three memoranda that it had requested from its Turkish counterpart.
“We hope that the Turkish authorities will provide the Public Prosecution with the evidence related to the case to be referred to the court. I would like to emphasize that the legal measures that were taken, ensure justice and accountability and thwart any attempts to politicize the case,” he said.
Khashoggi, a US-based Washington Post columnist was killed on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi officers who travelled from their country.
The Kingdom’s top diplomat also responded to the recent reports by major media outlets that the CIA has concluded that Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, ordered the assassination of Khassoggi. The assessment was apparently the substance of an intelligence briefing given to members of Congress. A spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, immediately denounced the newspaper’s allegations as ‘false’, while both President Donald Trump and the State Department said that the final conclusions of the case are yet to be made.
Jubeir denied any involvement by MBS and stressed that these reports were only based upon leaks as no official announcement has been released supporting the statements.
“I noted that they are based on assessment and not conclusive evidence. In all cases, we, in the Kingdom, know that such allegations about the Crown Prince are completely not true and we totally reject them; whether such allegations are made through leaks or otherwise,” he said.
He also addressed reports that the US had intercepted a call between Khashoggi and MBS’s younger brother and Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Khalid bin Salman, denying that such a discussion took place.
“This is also not true at all and has been firmly refuted, which points to the conclusion that the sources of these leaks are not reliable,” he said.
Saudi authorities have consistently denied the royal family’s involvement, describing the murder as a ‘rogue operation’. They have detained 21 suspects, charged 11 of them, and sought the death penalty for five of the accused.
Jubeir also insisted that the investigation into the murder of Khashoggi is a legal case and should not be politicized. “The Kingdom has put the case of Jamal Khashoggi in its legal framework and it won’t accept any politicization of this issue, because it does not serve the ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, nor does it serve cooperation among Islamic countries,” he said.
Jubeir decried media campaigns which have attempted to politicize the case and highlighted that throughout history Saudi Arabia has been a victim of such campaigns which seek to undermine the Kingdom.
“Those that stand behind these efforts and their motives are now exposed, especially after the transparent announcement of the results of the investigations and the referral of the matter to the courts. Throughout history, the Kingdom has been the target of many media tendentious campaigns, and different sources and arguments were used to undermine the role of the Kingdom and its position.”
The foreign minister offered a clear chronological explanation of why there was a shifting narrative from the Saudi government for weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance in early October which caused some to question Saudi’s version of events.
“What happened was as follows: those who carried out the crime presented a misleading and false report, and accordingly the story was denied. When conflicting reports became apparent that contradicted the information they presented in their report, King Salman ordered the Public Prosecutor to conduct an investigation, which resulted in the preliminary findings that were first announced by the Public Prosecutor. As the investigations continued, and sufficient evidence and confessions were gathered to refer the matter to court; the Public Prosecutor announced the results of his investigation and indicted a number of individuals and referred them to court. Should the investigation uncover any new evidence the Public Prosecution will announce that in a transparent manner.”