Sunday, September 26, 2021

Saudi Arabia Rejects US Report On Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi; Calls It Unacceptable Assessment

Saudi Arabia has rejected a report submitted to the US Congress regarding the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi, according to a foreign ministry statement Friday.

The statement said the Kingdom’s government completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report about Saudi Arabian leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.

“The Ministry reiterates what was previously announced by the relevant authorities in the Kingdom, that this was an abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the Kingdom’s laws and values. This crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations and authorities of the agencies where they were employed,” the statement said.

It emphasized that relevant authorities in the Kingdom took all possible measures within the legal system to ensure that the individuals were investigated and to ensure that justice was served.

It said the concerned individuals were convicted and sentenced by the courts in the Kingdom and sentences were welcomed by Khashoggi’s family.

TURKEY-SAUDI

“It is truly unfortunate that this report, with its unjustified and inaccurate conclusions, is issued while the Kingdom had clearly denounced this heinous crime, and the Kingdom’s leadership took the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy never takes place again. The Kingdom rejects any measure that infringes upon its leadership, sovereignty, and the independence of its judicial system,” it said.

The ministry stressed that the partnership between Saudi Arabia and the US is a robust and enduring partnership and said it has thrived for nearly eight decades on the basis of mutual respect, and the institutions in both countries have worked diligently to deepen these ties in all aspects, through increased cooperation and consultations to bolster security and stability in the region and the world.

“We look forward to maintaining the enduring foundations that have shaped the framework of the resilient strategic partnership between the Kingdom and the United States,” it said.

Khashoggi was brutally killed and likely dismembered after being lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 by Saudi officials. While Riyadh initially denied any role in his death, it later sought to pin blame on what they said was a botched rendition operation.

Khashoggi’s remains have never been found amid speculation that they were dissolved in a vat of acid in the diplomatic building.

That explanation has been widely rejected by the UN and a wide group of US lawmakers who have maintained bin Salman’s culpability.

The intelligence assessment is not new. Former President Donald Trump blocked its release as he consistently sought to shield bin Salman from blame in a killing that rocked the world.

But the administration of President Joe Biden prioritized its publication, despite what may be repercussions for the US-Saudi relationship.

Saudi Activists Welcome Decision  

Saudi Arabian activists in exile welcomed an unclassified CIA report Friday that blamed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

The opposition National Assembly Party (NAAS) spokesperson Madawi al-Rasheed said at an online news conference that those responsible for the murder should be brought to justice to prevent such crimes from happening again.

 “We are against any sanctions that may affect or jeopardize the interests of the people of Saudi Arabia, and we think targeted sanctions against individuals involved in human rights violations is important,” the group said.

“Mohammed Bin Salman is an unelected leader whose criminal, unlawful actions, along with the group of officials who carry these actions, are condemned by the people of Saudi Arabia and do not represent the public values.

Therefore, any sanctions taken against him or those involved in this heinous crime should not be directed against the economic or political interests of the country’s citizens, whether in Saudi Arabia or abroad,” the group said while stressing that it is opposed to any sanctions that will “jeopardize the interests of the people of Saudi Arabia,”

Punishment should be enforced, according to NAAS, as laid out by UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, who investigated the murder in 2019.

They include an FBI investigation into the murder, appropriate US prosecutions, a determination of the responsibility of the Crown Prince and US congressional hearings to “determine the responsibility of high-level officials of Saudi Arabia or of other countries, and demanding access to the underlying classified materials.”

The activists encouraged the US to work with Saudi institutions  “towards respect for human rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, and a path for a democratic transition.”

“The sham trial held in Saudi Arabia against a handful of officials involved did not achieve any justice and the investigation did not come near the masterminds,” it said.

 “Under Mohammed bIn Salman’s obsession with centralizing power and silencing critics, by the most vicious means, there are no real institutional reforms or independence to protect against his whims, whether in Saudi Arabia or abroad.

“The killing of Khashoggi would never have happened in a country protected by independent institutions, free from political manipulation and monitored by the public.”

NAAS was formed by Saudi activists in exile last year as a political party “calling for democracy and respect for human rights in the kingdom, a move that brings advocates together amid an intensifying crackdown on dissent.”

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