Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has said that CIA claims that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave the order to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi were false, according to an Arabic-language newspaper interview. News outlets reported the CIA's finding over the weekend in a case that has sparked an international outcry against the world's top oil exporter.
This was the most definitive US assessment to date tying Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler directly to the killing and contradicted Saudi government assertions that he was not involved.
“We in the kingdom know that such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth and we categorically reject them, whether through leaks or not," Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was quoted as saying in Saudi-owned Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper in the first Saudi official comment on the CIA report.
"They are leaks that have not been officially announced, and I have noticed that they are based on an assessment, not conclusive evidence," he added.
A source familiar with the CIA's assessment said it was based largely on circumstantial evidence relating to the prince's central role in running the Saudi government.