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Nov 28 2018

No direct evidence connecting Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi murder, says Pompeo

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday dismissed any direct evidence connecting the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month in Istanbul, the Guardian reported.

Speaking to reporters after he and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate behind closed doors that weakening Riyad-Washington ties over the killing would hurt national security, Pompeo said, “There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi.”

The murder of Khashoggi, known for his criticism of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 , has created international uproar.

Pompeo’s statement contradicts findings by U.S. intelligence officials who concluded the Saudi crown prince must have at least known of the plot,  however, the CIA’s findings have not been made public and U.S. President Donald Trump has given unclear messages over who is responsible.

Turkish authorities believe that the murder was planned in advance and executed by a team sent from Riyadh. Saudi authorities; however, stated that the journalist, who had been living in United States since 2017, was killed as a result of a fistfight with officers sent from the kingdom to convince Khashoggi to return to his homeland.

“The October murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies,’’ Pompeo wrote in a Wall Street Journal article published on Tuesday.