US lawmakers push for release of intelligence on Khashoggi murder

Two members of the United States Congress said on Tuesday they will push for the public release of a new US intelligence report on the 2018 murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Tom Malinowski, both Democrats, joined by Khashoggi’s fiance Cengiz Hatice, held a news conference on Tuesday to announce plans to force release the US report.

Partially responding to a law passed by Congress, the Trump administration delivered a classified version of what US intelligence agencies know about the murder of Khashoggi to Congress on February 20.

“The law stipulates that publicly, in an unclassified way, you would identify those who carried out, those who participated in, those who ordered this murder or were otherwise complicit in, or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi,” Wyden said.

A provision attached to an annual defence bill, requires a public report from the US intelligence agencies identifying who carried out the Khashoggi murder and who ordered or was otherwise complicit in his killing.

“The law left no ambiguity. The law was very specific about what needs to be public,” Wyden said.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post newspaper, was assassinated in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to individuals who have seen the US intelligence, intelligence agencies concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a hand in directing the hit squad in Khashoggi’s murder – a conclusion Saudi officials rejected.

Khashoggi “was lured out of the United States by the government of Saudi Arabia with the purpose of murdering and silencing him”, said Representative Malinowski.

“This was not just a horrific human rights violation. It was an act of extreme arrogance by the government of Saudi Arabia to think they could get away with murdering somebody who had sought and received shelter in the United States,” Malinowski said.

Wyden said he now is invoking procedures within the Senate Intelligence Committee providing for congressional release of the information. A Senate vote would likely be required.