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05 May 2019 - 00:31
News ID: 444697
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is said to have maintained close relationship with his former aide Ahmed al-Asiri, who is supposedly in prison over charges of leading a hit squad that murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last year.

RNA - Social media activists have recently shared pictures of Major General Asiri, showing the former deputy head of foreign intelligence celebrating with his nephew Omar, who just graduated from military college, during an event reportedly attended by the crown prince, also known as MbS, according to the press monitoring organization, the Middle East Monitor.

Online users said the picture, in which Asiri seems very comfortable, proves two things: “Either that Saudi law is thuggish and honors killers and thugs. Or that Asiri is really innocent and the person who was behind Khashoggi’s murder was really Mohammed Bin Salman.”

Asiri is one of the highest-profile figures implicated in the brutal assassination of Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the heir to the Saudi throne, at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul in early October 2018.

He was removed from his post after a Turkish investigation concluded there was “strong suspicion” that Asiri, along with another aide to MbS, Saud al-Qahtani, was among the masterminds of the murder plot.

Turkish officials have tied the murder case to the highest levels of Saudi leadership. The CIA is also reported to have concluded that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder, a conclusion Riyadh has denied.

Earlier in January, a Saudi court held its first hearing on Khashoggi’s case in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects in the case.

Both Istanbul and Riyadh have been conducting an investigation into the murder, but the joint inquiry has made little progress, with the Turkish authorities considering their Saudi counterparts uncooperative.

Ankara wants the suspects in the case to stand trial in Turkey, but Riyadh refuses to extradite them.

Turkey, which said it was in possession of audio evidence of Khashoggi’s murder soon after he failed to exit the consulate, has indirectly suggested that bin Salman was behind the journalist's killing.

After weeks of outright denial, Riyadh eventually acknowledged the “premeditated” murder but has attempted to shift the blame to bin Salman’s underlings and away from the prince himself.

Khashoggi’s murder has sparked an outcry from American lawmakers, many of whom believe President Donald Trump is covering up the crime.


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