US report on Khashoggi homicide vital for justice: UN skilled | Jamal Khashoggi Information
The upcoming release of an unclassified US intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi will be a crucial step in the ongoing search for justice, a leading UN expert said.
Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the report from the director of the National Intelligence Service (DNI) is expected to include information on who was responsible for the October 2018 killing.
“Once we have more evidence, it will be really impossible for the rest of the world to ignore the information provided,” Callamard said late Wednesday during a panel discussion hosted by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Khashoggi, a newspaper columnist for the Washington Post and a prominent critic of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was retrieving documents for his upcoming marriage.
His murder sparked shock waves around the world, sparking calls from human rights activists, press freedom organizations, UN experts and lawmakers for the perpetrators to be accountable.
“For accountability and American democracy reasons, the DNI report needs to be released,” Callamard said.
In a 2019 report, Agnes Callamard said it was “inconceivable” that Khashoggi was killed without Mohammed bin Salman knowing that “some sort of mission of a criminal nature” was being launched [File: Jose Cabezas/Reuters]
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the Biden administration remains committed to releasing the DNI report. She didn’t give a specific time frame for its release, just saying it would be “soon”.
Biden told reporters that he had read the report and expected to speak to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud by phone soon. He did not tell the US president when the call would take place, the White House press pool reported.
Earlier this week, Axios news agency said the report – which is widely believed to provide more details on the alleged role of bin Salman, also known as MBS, in Khashoggi’s murder – could be released as early as Thursday.
Citing four unidentified US officials familiar with the matter, Reuters said the report “assessed that the Crown Prince approved and likely ordered” Khashoggi’s murder.
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify this information.
Saudi officials have repeatedly denied allegations that MBS was involved in Khashoggi’s murder and instead blamed a group of villains for the murder.
In an interview with CBS’s program CBS 60 Minutes in 2019, the Crown Prince was asked if he had ordered Khashoggi’s murder. “Absolutely not,” he replied, adding that as the Saudi leader he was “fully responsible” for the “heinous crime”.
Amid global calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened, the US Congress passed a defense law in December 2019 that included a provision requiring the DNI to publish an unclassified report on the murder within 30 days.
In particular, it called on the intelligence chief to list anyone he believed to be “highly trusted” responsible or complicit in Khashoggi’s murder, knew of, supported, or impeded the investigation.
However, the administration of then-President Donald Trump – a staunch supporter of MBS – declined to publish the unclassified report as it could jeopardize the DNI’s sources and methods.
Trump also defied his own Republican Party’s demands to hold Saudi top leaders accountable. “There’s no chance – zero – that this happened in such an organized manner without the Crown Prince,” Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters after a CIA briefing in December 2018.
In a June 2019 report, Callamard also found “sufficient credible evidence of the Crown Prince’s responsibility to call for further investigation.”
The hit squad dispatched to kill Khashoggi required “significant government coordination, resources and finance,” the report said, and experts found it “inconceivable that an operation of this magnitude could be carried out without the Crown Prince knowing at least some of it. It became one Kind of criminal mission started directed at Mr. Khashoggi. “
The news of the upcoming release of the U.S. Intelligence Report comes as Biden seeks to overturn many of Trump’s most stringent policies. During the election campaign, Biden had promised to reassess relations between Washington and Riyadh.
On Wednesday afternoon, Psaki said the U.S. president intends to recalibrate relationships with senior Saudi leadership – and only has plans to have direct talks with King Salman, not his son, the Crown Prince.
“The President will speak to the King in due course. It will be soon, “Psaki told reporters.
“I would assume the call would be made directly to the king and one on one,” she said, adding that the Biden administration would wait for the US intelligence report to be published before commenting publicly.
The Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on Wednesday evening.