By Alaa Aboueleinin
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday denied accusations by U.S. senators about involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“At no time did HRH the Crown Prince correspond with any Saudi officials in any government entity on harming Jamal Khashoggi,” Fatimah Baeshen, a spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said in a statement on Twitter.
“We categorically reject any accusations purportedly linking the Crown Prince to this horrific incident,” she said.
“We stand by our initial statements which distill that HRH the Crown Prince communicates regularly with various senior officials within the Royal Court on different matters,” Baeshen said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that Khashoggi – a columnist for The Washington Post - was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.
A CIA assessment released in November appeared to implicate bin Salman in Khashoggi’s murder.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been forthright in addressing this tragic mistake, is holding people responsible accountable, and putting into place corrective measures to ensure an institutional gap of this catastrophic nature does not happen again,” Baeshen said.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday after an intelligence briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham described the Saudi crown prince as “a wrecking ball”.
“I think he’s complicit in the murder of Khashoggi to the highest level possible,” Graham said.
Senator Bob Corker, one of eight senators at the briefing, also told reporters he believed bin Salman was responsible for the murder.
"If he was in front of a jury he’d be convicted in 30 minutes, guilty," said Corker. "I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince, MBS, ordered the killing, monitored the killing," he added, referring to bin Salman by his initials.