United States President Donald Trump has restated his support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even after the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) issued their assessment which pointed at MBS as having ordered the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Al Jazeera reported.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate’s building in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.
Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.
Despite requests from Senators to condemn the murder, Trump refused to comment on whether MBS was complicit in it.
“He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office.
Asked by Reuters if standing by the kingdom meant standing by the prince, known as MBS, Trump stated,”Well, at this moment, it certainly does.”
Trump said that the “crown prince vehemently denies” involvement in the killing, as per the report.
Trump had earlier called the CIA assessment ‘pre-mature’. During the interview in the Office, he expressed hope that the Senators would not propose stopping arms sales to the Saudis.
“And I really hope that people aren’t going to suggest that we should not take hundreds of billions of dollars that they’re going to siphon off to Russia and to China,” Trump was quoted in the report as having said.
This week, the senators are expected to consider a joint resolution condemning MBS, which Trump would either have to sign or veto if passed. He has said he would meet with senators, the report stated.
He said he is more open to ending US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, something several US politicians have pushed for in recent weeks.
“Well, I’m much more open to Yemen because frankly, I hate to see what’s going on in Yemen,” Trump said. “But it takes two to tango. I’d want to see Iran pull out of Yemen too. Because – and I think they will.”
Meanwhile, TIME magazine honored a newspaper and four journalists, of which included Khashoggi, as it’s Person of the Year.
The Capital Gazette in the US state of Maryland’s Annapolis, two Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, as well as Khashoggi, were recognised as “Guardians” of truth, Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal announced on Tuesday, as per the AJ report.
“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world – as of December 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018 – who risk all to tell the story of our time,” Felsenthal wrote in an essay titled The Guardians and the War on Truth.
Time selected them “for taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and speaking out”.
According to Felsenthal, Khashoggi is the first person to be nominated by the magazine post-mortem.
“But it’s also very rare that a person’s influence grows so immensely in death,” he said. “His murder has prompted a global reassessment of the Saudi crown prince and a really long-overdue look at the devastating war in Yemen.”
The Capital Gazette had earlier been targeted in June when a gunman opened fire, leading to four journalists and a sales assistant being killed.
Maria Ressa is an award-winning journalist from Phillipines who– along with the online news service she heads, Rappler– was recently sued for tax evasion.