Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman has finally broken silence over the killing of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by Saudi operatives.
The Crown Prince, also known as MBS, told American public broadcaster PBS that he bears responsibility for the killing because it “happened under his watch”.
Reuters reports that Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has not spoken publicly about the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some Western governments have said he ordered it, but Saudi officials say he had no role.
“It happened under my watch. I get all the responsibility because it happened under my watch,” he told PBS’ Martin Smith, according to a preview of a documentary.
“The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” set to air on Oct. 1, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s death.
After initial denials, the official Saudi narrative blamed the murder on rogue operatives.
The public prosecutor said the then-deputy intelligence chief ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a royal insider who became an outspoken critic, but the lead negotiator ordered him killed after discussions for his return failed.
Saud al-Qahtani, a former top royal adviser whom Reuters reported gave orders over Skype to the killers, briefed the hit team on Khashoggi’s activities before the operation, the prosecutor said.
Asked how the killing could happen without him knowing about it, Smith quotes Prince Mohammed as saying: “We have 20 million people. We have 3 million government employees.”
Smith asked whether the killers could have taken private government jets, to which the crown prince responded: “I have officials, ministers to follow things, and they’re responsible.”
“They have the authority to do that,” Smith describes the December exchange, which apparently took place off-camera, in the preview of the documentary.
A senior U.S. administration official said in June the Trump administration was pressing Riyadh for “tangible progress” toward holding to account those behind the killing ahead.