US Intelligence: MBS Vowed to Use 'Bullet' on Jamal Khashoggi

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A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 25, 2018. "In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

If all that failed, the prince added, then maybe the answer was "a bullet", the Times said, citing the officials who had seen the intelligence reports on the conversation.

"Given the importance of the case, we should be expecting a greater presence of representatives of the media, of civil society, of a range of other governments, not just those hand-picked by the Saudi authorities", said Ms Callamard, who is director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University in NY.

If confirmed, the phone call would appear to be the most direct evidence yet linking Crown Prince Mohammed to plans to kill the "Washington Post" columnist.

Despite Turkey's joint investigation with Saudi officials looking at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, the consul's residence and several other locations, the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains are still unknown.

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After initially denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance, the kingdom has acknowledged that a team killed him inside the diplomatic mission but described it as a rogue operation that did not involve the crown prince.

Mr Jubeir said he would not comment on stories without named attribution after the New York Times reported that Prince Mohammed threatened to use "a bullet" on Mr Khashoggi.

United States intelligence services intercepted communications in which the Saudi leader said he would use "a bullet" against the Washington Post columnist if he did not stop publishing unflattering reports about the regime, The New York Times reported.

The prince suggested that if Khashoggi did not willingly return to Saudi Arabia, he might have to be brought back forcibly, the Times reported. Not long after the journalist's murder, a preliminary investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency found it had been carried out under orders from the prince. "There is no need for taking steps like this because. we are doing what we need to do in terms of acknowledging the mistake, investigating, charging and holding people accountable", he said.

Al-Jubeir bristled at the notion that outsiders would criticize the government.

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The U.S. Senate issued a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi's murder in December, following a Central Intelligence Agency report concluding his responsibility.

Agnes Callamard, an independent United Nations human rights expert, has criticized the kingdom for its lack of transparency in the proceedings over the grisly slaying.

Turkey has sought the extradition of the Saudi citizens involved in the killing as well as a fuller accounting of the killing from Riyadh.

Khashoggi's Turkish fiancee told reporters earlier Friday that she was hopeful that his killers will be punished and appealed to legislators in the European Union and the U.S. Congress to closely follow the case.

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