NEW YORK — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview that he takes “full responsibility” for the grisly killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he denied allegations that he ordered it.
“This was a heinous crime,” Prince Mohammed, 34, told “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday. “But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”
Asked if he ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who had criticized him in columns for The Washington Post, Prince Mohammed replied: “Absolutely not.”
The slaying was “a mistake,” he said.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, 2018, to collect a document that he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. Agents of the Saudi government killed Khashoggi inside the consulate and apparently dismembered his body, which has never been found. Saudi Arabia has charged 11 people in the slaying and put them on trial, which has been held in secret. As of yet, no one has been convicted.
A U.N. report asserted that Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the killing and said Prince Mohammed’s possible role in it should be investigated. In Washington, Congress has said it believes Prince Mohammed is “responsible for the murder.” Saudi Arabia has long insisted the crown prince had no involvement in an operation that included agents who reported directly to him.
“Some think that I should know what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily,” the powerful heir told “60 Minutes.” ”It’s impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second-highest person in the Saudi government.”
In an interview Thursday in New York, Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, told The Associated Press that responsibility for Khashoggi’s slaying “was not limited to the perpetrators” and said she wanted Prince Mohammed to tell her: “Why was Jamal killed? Where is his body? What was the motive for this murder?”
Prince Mohammed also addressed the Sept. 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities. While Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia has said it was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
“There is no strategic goal,” Prince Mohammed said of the attack. “Only a fool would attack 5% of global supplies. The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did.”
He urged “strong and firm action to deter Iran.”