NEW YORK: The quest for accountability in Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death took a step forward this week with United States lawmakers calling on their intelligence chiefs to publish details about those behind the assassination.
A demand for evidence about Khashoggi’s death comes in an annual military spending bill, the National Defense Authorisation Act, which was passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and will be voted on by the Senate next week.
If enacted, the Director of National Intelligence will have 30 days to report to Congress with details on who orchestrated the Saudi hit squad that killed and dismembered Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul late last year.
According to the bill, the report would address the “role of any current or former official of the Government of Saudi Arabia or any current or former senior Saudi political figure over the directing, ordering, or tampering of evidence in the killing” of Khashoggi.
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The document would indicate who intelligence chiefs believed “were responsible for, or complicit in, ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing” the assassination, as well as those who “impeded the impartial investigation” into the killing afterward.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post daily and US resident, was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct 2, 2018. His body was never recovered.
According to media reports, the CIA determined that crown prince Mohammad bin Salman personally ordered the hit. Saudi officials, who initially said Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, now say the journalist was killed in a rogue operation that did not involve the royal.
In a report in May, UN human rights investigator Agnes Callamard concluded it was a “deliberate, premeditated execution,” and called for bin Salman, also known as MbS, to be investigated.
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