A declassified U.S. intelligence report has revealed that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 was approved by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
"We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report's executive summary states.
"We base this assessment on the Crown Prince's control of decision-making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman's protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince's support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi."
It was the Biden administration that provided the highly-anticipated intelligence report to Congress ahead of its public release on Friday, February 26.
According to CNN, the congressionally mandated release of the report followed a phone call President Joe Biden had with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on Thursday. The four-page report, titled "Assessing the Saudi Government's Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi," is dated February 11 and marked as declassified by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on February 25.
The report specifically notes bin Salman's "absolute control" of Saudi intelligence and security operations.
"Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom's security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince's authorization," the report says.
It states that the 15-person Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul in October 2018 when Khashoggi was killed included members associated with the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court, led by a close adviser of bin Salman, as well as "seven members of Muhammad bin Salman's elite personal protective detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force."
The administration alluded it would consider sanctions against those found responsible for the brutal murder.
"I expect that we will be in a position before long to speak to steps to promote accountability going forward for this horrific crime," said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
The report said that at the time of Khashoggi's murder, "the crown prince fostered an environment in which aides were afraid that failure to complete assigned tasks might result in him firing or arresting them."
Khashoggi, who was a columnist for The Washington Post, and a general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, was assassinated on October 2, 2018, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly by agents of the Saudi government. He also served as editor for the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Watan, turning it into a platform for Saudi progressives.