The CIA has "high confidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, officials first told The Washington Post.
The CIA reportedly drew its evidence from, among other things, a phone call between Khashoggi and bin Salman's brother Khalid bin Salman, in which Khalid told Khashoggi to visit the Saudi consulate where he was killed. The crown prince told Khalid to make the call, per the Post. A team of 15 Saudi operatives then reportedly flew via government airplane to Istanbul for the murder.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 17 Saudis it said were "involved in" Khashoggi's murder earlier this week. But this is furthest the U.S. has gone toward implicating Saudi Arabia for the crime, per reports from multiple sources.
Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and Turkey has long maintained the Saudi government was responsible. Saudi Arabia once said the murder was a predetermined rogue operation, but shifted to say it was a random killing when announcing charges against 11 alleged perpetrators earlier this week. Bin Salman is close with President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and some have suggested the Trump administration avoided implicating Saudi Arabia to preserve an alliance with the country.
A spokeswoman for America's Saudi consulate told the Post that the CIA's claims in its "purported assessment are false."