Saudi crown prince takes responsibility for journalist's killing but denies ordering it
Jamal Khashoggi's slaying was 'a mistake,' Mohammed bin Salman tells 60 Minutes
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview that he takes "full responsibility" for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but denied allegations that he ordered it.
"This was a heinous crime," the 34-year-old crown prince 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 murder of Khashoggi, who had criticized him in columns for The Washington Post, the crown prince 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 fiancée. 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 UN report asserted that Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the killing and said the crown prince's possible role in it should be investigated. In Washington, Congress has said it believes the crown prince 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 fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, told The Associated Press that responsibility for Khashoggi's slaying "was not limited to the perpetrators" and said she wanted the crown prince to tell her: "Why was Jamal killed? Where is his body? What was the motive for this murder?"
Watch: Mohammed bin Salman denies ordering the killing of Khashoggi
'Unimaginably high numbers'
The crown prince 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."
He warned in Sunday's broadcast that oil prices could spike to "unimaginably high numbers" if the world doesn't come together to deter Iran, but said he preferred a political solution to a military one.
"If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests," bin Salman said through a translator. "Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven't seen in our lifetimes."
Watch: Khashoggi's fiancée still seeking justice
But he said he preferred a peaceful resolution because regional war would collapse the global economy.
In an interview Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, he said he agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the attacks, which knocked out more than five per cent of global oil supply, were an act of war by Iran.
On Monday, an Iranian government spokesperson said Saudi Arabia has sent messages to Iran President Hassan Rouhani through the leaders of other countries.
"Messages from the Saudis were presented to Hassan Rouhani from the leaders of some countries," Ali Rabiei said, according to the semi-official ILNA news agency. "If Saudi Arabia is really pursuing a change of behaviour, Iran welcomes that."
Rabiei did not give any information on what the messages contained.
With files from Reuters