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Trump, Kushner gave pass for Khashoggi murder, says ex-CIA chief

The CIA concluded in 2018 that Khashoggi's murder was ordered by MbS [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2020

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Former CIA chief John Brennan also described Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a 'quintessential authoritarian leader.'
The Trump administration effectively allowed Saudi Arabia to kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by failing to hold Riyadh to account after the gruesome killing, former CIA chief John Brennan has said.

"We have to hold the Saudis as well as others to account for any type of human rights atrocities… [But] Donald Trump and Jared Kushner and the White House have given MBS… a pass for that horrific murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi," Brennan said in a CNN interview aired on Friday, adding that the president "sees life and the world through a prism of dollar sides".

Brennan, who headed the CIA between 2013 and 2017, described Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as  "a quintessential authoritarian leader" who has "incarcerated and suppressed many Saudis, including activists and women activists in the Kingdom with widespread reports of maltreatment.

"And this is something that unfortunately Donald Trump has turned a blind eye to."

The former intelligence chief indicated that he believes Prince Mohammed was behind the gruesome killing.

"Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for five years, I know that that murder would not have been carried out unless it was authorised by the highest authority," Brennan said, echoing earlier reports that the CIA had concluded that MbS had personally ordered Khashoggi's killing.

Earlier this month, the anniversary of the killing Jamal Khashoggi prompted several US lawmakers to push for Trump to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the assassination.

In a virtual event hosted by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POME), the lawmakers argued that friendly relations between the US and Saudi Arabia should not prevent Washington from holding the Arab state responsible for human rights infractions.

Read more: Jamal Khashoggi's legacy: A vision worth defending

"President Trump has not only dismissed evidence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's responsibility for the assassination; he has cozied up even closer to the immoral regime, selling it weapons for its disastrous war in Yemen and putting our country's nuclear know-how in its hands," Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine said during the session.

"Let me be clear: We will hold Saudi Arabia to account for these heinous crimes until we see a dramatic improvement in the nation's treatment of journalists and political dissidents..." he added. 

"This is what is right and this is how we honour the legacy of Khashoggi - who wanted to expose the fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of people who dare to speak their minds."

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