Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said he takes full responsibility for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country's Istanbul consulate last year, but denied ordering his killing.
"It's impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second highest person in the Saudi government," said the crown prince, the power behind the throne who has spearheaded an aggressive campaign to transform the country's oil-dependent economy.
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The Gulf kingdom has charged 11 people in connection with Khashoggi’s murder — some of them believed to be close to the crown prince — and put them on trial in Saudi Arabia. Court proceedings are closed to the public and the kingdom has refused to allow international investigators to work in the country.
In separate interviews due to air on BBC’s "Panorama" program later on Monday, two human rights advocates who listened to what are allegedly Turkish intelligence tapes from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, relayed what the audio revealed about Khashoggi’s final moments. NBC News has not confirmed the authenticity of the tapes.
British human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy told the BBC that members of the Saudi hit squad could be heard laughing as they waited for Khashoggi, who they describe as “the sacrificial lamb.”
"There was a point where you can hear Khashoggi moving from being a man who's a confident person, towards a sense of fear — rising anxiety, rising terror — and then knowing that something fatal is about to happen," Kennedy said.
Almost a year after the murder that shocked and triggered a wave of revulsion around the world, Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz told NBC News last week that the international attention meant that she felt the full weight of his loss only months later.
"After a long delay, I experienced this huge shock wave," she said.