US senators demand public CIA report on Khashoggi killing

US senators demand public CIA report on Khashoggi killing
Five Democratic senators have proposed a bill that would require the US intelligence services to publish an unclassified report identifying those involved in the murder of the Saudi journalist.
3 min read
27 February, 2019
Senators are demanding more action from the US government over the assassination of Khashoggi [Getty]

As part of a push for the US government to disclose information about the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a group of US senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would oblige the CIA to submit a public report on the murder of the US-based Saudi journalist.

According to the group, the report must include identification of those involved in the killing, including those who ordered it, participated in it, or were complicit in any other way.

Khashoggi, a veteran reporter and columnist for the Washington Post, was murdered at the Saudi Embassy in October last year as he went to pick up documents for his upcoming wedding.

An official release statement said the bill was a response to “conflicting statements by Trump and silence from [international community] leaders”.

The CIA has already concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi’s death, however the Trump administration has avoided taking any serious action against its close Gulf ally.

A UN investigation also found evidence that Khashoggi's murder was "planned and perpetrated" by Saudi officials.

However Saudi Arabia denies such allegations. Following leaked reports of the Turkish investigation, the kingdom did concede that Khashoggi was killed by a 15-man team of Saudi agents. However it maintains it was a “rogue” operation and that the country’s leadership had nothing to do with the incident.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Kamala Harris of California, demands the director of the CIA submit the report within 30 days of its enactment.

Wyden said the proposed bill “says the Trump administration can’t get away with burying the facts about Jamal Khashoggi.”

Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate, said that Khashoggi’s murder was “a tragedy” and represented “an attack on journalists everywhere”.

“We must always defend the rights of a free and independent press both at home and abroad, which is why I’m standing with my colleagues to demand a public report on this incident,” she added.

Ahmed Bedier, the founder of the Justice for Jamal campaign, told Aljazeera that the timing of the proposal, ahead of Jared Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia, is significant.

"They are bringing the issue back to the fore, this will continue to [place] a dark cloud over Mohammed bin Salman that this issue is not going away," he said.

Read more: The Khashoggi affair: Saudi Denial 2.0

In October, the then top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee invoked the Magnitsky Act, which gave the Trump administration 120 days - until February 8 - to determine who was behind Khashoggi's killing and to describe actions against them.

The law, which targets extrajudicial killings and torture, is named for Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption accountant who died in Russian custody.

However Trump did not this legally mandated deadline.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly sent a letter to Congress on the day of the deadline, but it did not satisfy the conditions of the Magnitsky Act, according to some senators.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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