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AFP
February 12, 2019

US ‘not covering up’ Khashoggi’s murder: Pompeo

World

AFP
February 12, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday denied Washington was "covering up" the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and promised further action.

"America is not covering up for a murder," Pompeo told reporters in Budapest when asked about criticism by a senior Democrat. The remarks came after US President Donald Trump missed a deadline set by Congress to reply by Friday on whether Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of the Washington Post contributor.

Pompeo said that Trump’s administration was "working diligently" on its investigation. "The president has been very clear -- couldn’t be more clear -- as we get additional information, we will continue to hold all of those responsible accountable," he said.

Khashoggi, who lived in the United States, was strangled to death and dismembered in October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to take care of paperwork for his marriage, according to officials. Trump said nothing on the congressional deadline, while congressional aides said that Pompeo had sent them a letter in which he outlined actions over the killing.

The administration revoked the visas of nearly two dozen Saudi officials and froze the assets of 17 others. But Trump has openly said that he does not care if Prince Mohammed was responsible for the killing as Saudi Arabia buys weapons from the United States and shares his hard line on Iran.

Meanwhile, Riyadh said it does not know the location of dissident Jamal Khashoggi’s body, despite having detained the Saudi team that murdered him, a high-ranking foreign affairs official in the kingdom said in an interview broadcast late on Sunday.

The dissident journalist was dismembered after his murder on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but his remains have yet to be found. Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, said the murder was carried out by Saudi officials "acting outside their scope of authority" and that 11 people have been charged with the crime.

But asked where Khashoggi’s body is, he told CBS’s "Face the Nation," "We don’t know." Jubeir said the public prosecutor responsible for the case had sought evidence from Turkey but had received no response.

Questioned why those in custody couldn’t tell them where the body was, Jubeir responded: "We are still investigating." "We have now a number of possibilities and we’re asking them what they did with the body, and I think this investigation is ongoing, and I would expect that eventually we will find the truth," he said.

Jubeir was interviewed on Friday, the same day President Donald Trump ignored a congressional deadline for reporting on who assassinated Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had been openly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The CIA has concluded the Saudi operation was likely directed by the powerful crown prince, but the White House has sidestepped that finding amid strenuous denials by Riyadh, a key US ally.

On Friday, The New York Times said the CIA had intercepted communications of the crown prince telling a top aide in 2017 that he would go after Khashoggi "with a bullet" if the journalist did not return to Saudi Arabia.

"I’m not going to comment on reports based on anonymous sources," Jubeir said. "The crown prince, we know, did not order this. This was not a government-sanctioned operation."

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