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US to Share Report Blaming MBS for Khashoggi Killing

UN expert says it must be released 'for the sake of American democracy'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2021 7:52 AM CST

(Newser) – Though Donald Trump played nice with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, it does not appear that President Biden will keep that up. The Biden administration plans to release on Thursday a declassified version of a 2018 intelligence report that concluded the crown prince approved and likely ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, reports Reuters and NBC News. Members of Congress got a look at the classified version of the report, which largely comes from the CIA, in late 2018. But its public release will "mark a significant new chapter in the US-Saudi relationship and a clear break … with former President Donald Trump's policy of equivocating about the Saudi state's role in a brutal murder," per NBC. Biden said Wednesday that he had read the report and planned to speak with MBS' father, King Salman.

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White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki described an effort to "recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia." Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines committed to releasing it in compliance with a provision in a 2019 defense bill that the Trump administration chose not to comply with, per the BBC. MBS has denied direct involvement in Khashoggi’s 2018 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The kingdom blames agents who acted in a "rogue" extradition operation. Five men sentenced to death for the crime later had their sentences commuted to 20 years in what UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard called a "parody of justice." "For the sake of accountability and for the sake of American democracy, the DNI report must be released," she said Wednesday, per Al Jazeera. (Khashoggi's fiancee is suing MBS in US court.)

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