The murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi “happened under my watch”, the de-facto leader of Saudi Arabia has admitted.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time seemed to accept a degree of responsibility for the murder, but denied prior knowledge of it.
“It happened under my watch. I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch,” he told a reporter for US public service broadcaster PBS just months after the murder, it was revealed today.
It is the first time the Crown Prince has spoken publicly about the murder since it happened almost year ago.
The killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year became a major international incident. Several governments and companies later boycotted a Saudi conference, and it is believed to have caused the delay of state oil company Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering.
Bin Salman said that whereas the event happened under his watch, there is a lot for him to watch.
“We have 20m people. We have 3m government employees,” he said. When asked how the killers got access to a government plane, the leader said officials and ministers “have the authority to do that.”
Several Saudis have been put on trial in the country, however international governments have criticised its lack of transparency. Khashoggi’s body has never been found.
The comments are part of a new documentary on PBS to mark the anniversary of the killing. It also features an interview Khashoggi did with the broadcaster before he was killed, speaking about his journey from a supporter to a critic of the Crown Prince.
“I don’t want to be a dissident, but in the same time, I don’t want to go back home and be silent again,” he said.