U.S. President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, and Turkish police were allowed to extend their probe at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
In his toughest comments yet, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he wanted to believe the prince when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the killing at the Saudi mission.
But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”
His comments heaped pressure on his close ally amid a global outcry over the journalist’s death, and came hours before Prince Mohammed’s appearance at a Saudi investment conference where he is due to make his most high profile comments since Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2.
A number of high profile business and political figures have pulled out of the conference over the death of the journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
An adviser to Turkey’s president said Prince Mohammed had “blood on his hands” over Khashoggi, the bluntest language yet from someone linked to Tayyip Erdogan.
Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the remarks by Trump and the Erdogan adviser.
Riyadh has blamed a “rogue operation” for the death of the prominent Saudi journalist and said the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.
The death of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist, has sparked global outrage and threatened relations between Riyadh and Washington as well as other Western nations.
For Saudi Arabia’s allies, the burning question has been whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability in the killing, a possibility raised by several U.S. lawmakers.