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Saudi opposition party, exiled activists, welcome US report on Khashoggi killing

The declassified CIA report means Washington officially holds Riyadh responsible for Khashoggi's killing [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 February, 2021

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The opposition National Assembly Party consists of activists and academics calling for democracy in Saudi Arabia.
Exiled Saudi activists have welcomed the declassified US intelligence report released on Friday that blamed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Washington publicly accused MbS for Khashoggi's killing for the first time, with the report stating that given his influence, it was "highly unlikely" that the murder could have taken place without the Crown Prince's green light.

MbS, who is the de facto ruler of the long-time US partner and oil provider, "approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi", the report said.

"We are against any sanctions that may affect or jeopardize the interests of the people of Saudi Arabia, and we think targeted sanctions against individuals involved in human rights violations is important," the opposition National Assembly Party said in a statement.

"Mohammed Bin Salman is an unelected leader whose criminal, unlawful actions, along with the group of officials who carry these actions, are condemned by the people of Saudi Arabia and do not represent the public values," the statement said.

"Therefore, any sanctions taken against him or those involved in this heinous crime should not be directed against the economic or political interests of the country’s citizens, whether in Saudi Arabia or abroad," the group said while stressing that it is opposed to any sanctions that will "jeopardize the interests of the people of Saudi Arabia".

Read also: Saudi says 'completely rejects' US assessment on Khashoggi murder

In September 2020, Saudis living in exile in countries including Britain and the United States announced the formation of a pro-democracy opposition party. It is the first organised opposition movement against reigning King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The party is led by London-based human rights activist Yahya Asiri, a former Air Force officer, and its academic members include Madawi al-Rasheed, researcher Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, US-based Abdullah al-Awda, and Canadian-based Omar bin Abdul Aziz.

Al-Rasheed, who is also the party's spokesperson, told an online news conference on Friday that those responsible for the murder should be brought to justice to prevent such crimes from happening again.

Following Friday's report, the Biden administration stopped short of imposing sanctions on MbS. 

Saudi Arabia on Friday said it "completely rejects" the declassified report.

"The government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the kingdom's leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.

Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 to obtain documents he needed to marry, and was killed and dismembered there.

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