KEY POINTS

  • Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018
  • Calls have grown for the incoming Biden administration to declassify the report
  • Trump administration had imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the murder

While it's been more than two years since Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul, the changing narratives by the Saudi authorities, complemented by a steady drip of leaks about the killing from Turkish officials, have made sure the death of the Saudi critic is not forgotten just yet. 

Corroborating this further, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday said she will declassify an intelligence report on the murder. The report is expected to give crucial details about the journalist's killing.

The Central Intelligence Agency had concluded with “medium to high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing,  The Washington Post reported. The Saudi government, however, has denied any involvement and called it a "rogue operation."

During the Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden told Avril Haines that she would be required to submit to Congress the unclassified report on “who was responsible for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi” if she is confirmed as the new Director of National Intelligence. 

“Yes, senator. Absolutely, I will follow the law,” Haines replied. 

Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018 and his body, which was reportedly dismembered, has not been found yet. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, waited outside the consulate when he went inside to get some documents for their planned wedding. Cengiz sued the Saudi crown prince last year and sought damages for Khashoggi's murder.

Several narratives emerged after the murder, with Turkish officials saying Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents, who had removed the security cameras from the consulate before the incident. Turkish investigation also included a man dressed up in Khashoggi’s clothes and leaving the consulate. He was later identified as part of the hit squad sent to kill the journalist, according to CNN. One of the Turkish accounts said that Khashoggi's body was cut up using a bone saw before being disposed of.

Tweeting a clip from the hearing, Wyden said he has been fighting for two years for “transparency and accountability” of those responsible for the murder, and the commitment from Haines to release the report was huge.  

Congress passed a bill in 2019 requiring the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to release the Khashoggi report within 30 days. The Trump administration, however, blocked the release of the report. 

Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, was quoted by The Guardian as saying that she hoped new details — like whether a risk assessment had ever been done by the U.S. about any threat to Khashoggi before his trip to Turkey — would be revealed in the report. 

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the journalist’s murder in 2018, but the president has refused to hold the crown prince accountable.  

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 Photo: AFP / MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH