RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) says he bears responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by Saudi operatives “because it happened under my watch,” according to a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary to be broadcast next week.
It is the first time that Mohamed bin Salman has publicly indicated personal accountability for the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by operatives seen as close to him. The CIA and some Western governments have said they believe 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.
Asked how the killing could happen without him knowing about it, Smith quotes Prince Mohamed 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 US administration official told Reuters in June the Trump administration was pressing Riyadh for “tangible progress” toward holding to account those behind the killing ahead. Eleven Saudi suspects have been put on trial in secretive proceedings but only a few hearings have been held.