Calls for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to be held accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are a “red line”, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Wednesday.
In a BBC television interview, Jubeir said any disparaging discussion about Prince Mohammad or his father, the Saudi monarch, would not be tolerated.
“In Saudi Arabia our leadership is a red line. The custodian of the two holy mosques (King Salman) and the crown prince are a red line,” Jubeir said.
“They represent every Saudi citizen and every Saudi citizen represents them. And we will not tolerate any discussion of anything that is disparaging towards our monarch or our crown prince.”
During his round of media appearances, the foreign minister was also asked about a Reuters news agency report this week that quoted Saudi sources saying a move was in play to prevent Prince Mohammed from ascending the throne.
“These are outrageous comments that have been made and are totally unacceptable. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to its leadership,” he was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.
“The crown prince has the confidence of every Saudi citizen, including King Salman. The crown prince is the architect and driving force behind the reform programme in Saudi Arabia and the Vision of 2030,” Jubeir said while talking to CBS.
According to Al Jazeera, Reuters in a statement on Wednesday said it stood by its story.
Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammad, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, killed and reportedly dismembered.
After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the crown prince.
Jubeir insisted that Prince Mohammad had not been involved in the killing. “We have made that very clear. We have investigations ongoing and we will punish the individuals who are responsible for this,” he said.
He called on Turkey to come forward with all its evidence about the slaying and stop leaking out information. The foreign minister said the murder was a “rogue operation” by intelligence officers.
Jubeir also said any possible US sanctions on Saudi Arabia would be short-sighted. US President Donald Trump on Wednesday ignored criticism that he gave Saudi Arabia a free pass on Khashoggi’s murder, instead praising the kingdom for keeping oil prices low.