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NY Times: Saudi Khashoggi cover-up falling apart

Saudi Arabia's efforts to cover up the case of slain journalist Khashoggi case further unraveled this week, according to The New York Times.

The latest demands for a reckoning "have come from American intelligence agencies, a United Nations investigator and a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, sources that in their diversity and breadth should serve notice on [Saudi Crown] Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] that all his oil wealth and powerful friends will not wash away the blood of the slain journalist," the paper said in its lead editorial on Friday.

The Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, was met by Saudi denials for weeks before officials admitted he was killed there, but -- they argued -- as the result of a botched extradition.

The Times editorial, "Saudi Arabia's Threadbare Cover-Up of Khashoggi's Killing Unravels Further," said bin Salman and his friends in the White House "evidently calculated that the outcry over the barbarous murder of Jamal Khashoggi would die over time."

They were wrong, and also mistaken to think that bin Salman could freely continue his "autocratic way, repressing critics and dissidents with impunity" once the outcry came to an end, said the Times editorial board.

It laid out newly revealed findings by American spy agencies that bin Salman evidently suggested killing Khashoggi a year before the incident.

According to their findings, bin Salman said in a conversation with a top aide that if self-exiled Khashoggi could not be enticed or brought back by force to Saudi Arabia, he would go after him "with a bullet."

The article also stressed the findings of Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who, after visiting Turkey with a team of experts for an international inquiry into Khashoggi's murder, concluded that "Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia."

A group of NGOs -- including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch -- have also accused the Saudi government of "continuing to persecute dissidents, activists, journalists and independent clerics," said the Times.

"The pressure must continue. Congress should continue to demand a full disclosure of CIA records related to Mr. Khashoggi's murder, with the identities of all those responsible for it," the editorial said.

It also urged full support for Callamard's investigation by the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and others.

"And all who rue Mr. Khashoggi's fate should demand that Saudi Arabia cease the repression of those Saudis in whose name he spoke out," it said.

After producing various contradictory explanations for Khashoggi's disappearance last fall, Riyadh acknowledged he had been killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a rogue Saudi team.

Turkey has sought the extradition of the Saudi citizens involved in the killing as well as a fuller accounting of the killing from Riyadh.

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