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Saudi Arabia rejects U.S. intelligence report on Khashoggi's killing: statement

FILE PHOTO: Horse racing - Saudi Cup - King Abdulaziz Racetrack, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - February 20, 2021 Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after The Saudi Cup REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said it rejected completely “the negative, false and unacceptable” assessment of a U.S. intelligence report released on Friday that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler approved an operation to capture or kill the Washington Post columnist in 2018, the U.S. report said, as the United States sanctioned some of those involved but not the crown prince himself.

“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the .... assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

“The crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations... and the kingdom’s leadership took the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy never takes place again,” the foreign ministry statement added.

A Saudi Arabian court jailed eight people last year for between seven and 20 years over the murder of Khashoggi after his family forgave his killers and enabled death sentences to be set aside.

Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, where he had gone to obtain documents for his impending wedding. His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found.

The murder caused a global uproar and tarnished the reformist image of Prince Mohammed, and strained the relationship between the U.S. and its closest Arab ally.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America is a robust and enduring partnership,” the statement said.

Reporting by Alaa Swilam and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Howard Goller

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