Saudi Minister Says Idea Khashoggi's Murder Was Authorized Is 'Ridiculous': 'We Don't Have a History of Murdering Our Citizens'

A senior Saudi Arabian government official scoffed at the "ridiculous," but widely corroborated, accusation that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the behest of top Saudi state agents.

Saudi Minister of State Adel al-Jubeir, who was demoted from foreign affairs minister amid international outrage over the November 2018 Khashoggi allegations of murder, touted the Middle East kingdom's attractiveness to foreign business as proof officials that did not order the killing. "If Saudi Arabia was so bad nobody would come," Jubeir told Germany's Deutsche Welle over the weekend. Jubeir rejected a wide swath of reports from the United Nations, the CIA and human rights groups which placed culpability for the murder squarely on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking with Deutsche Welle at the Munich Security Conference, Jubeir said the United Kingdom, France and other Western governments critical of Saudi Arabia's human rights records "need to be more educated."

"[Saudi Arabia] is paying a great price" for the murder of Khashoggi, the Saudi minister of state said. "The idea that this was authorized is ridiculous."

A November 2018 report published in The Washington Post, Khashoggi's former employer, found that CIA officials were certain the Saudi crown prince himself was behind the assassination. And U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard issued a report in July 2019 citing "credible evidence pointing to the crime scenes having been thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned," further accusing Saudi officials of "obstructing justice."

But Jubeir pushed back against the U.N. report, saying Callamard "relied on sources from the newspapers and on leaks to the media" he claimed were biased. "Look at her record when it comes to Saudi Arabia for a number of years and how disparaging and how negative she has been against Saudi Arabia."

The fiancée of the slain journalist, Hatice Cengiz, told The Guardian last month that Saudi royalty has been "encouraged to do whatever it wants" because it didn't face consequences. "Because these people were not punished for what they have done, and because the world has chosen to just move on, they can still do what they want," she said.

Absent from much of the international criticism of the Saudi Arabian government is America's first family. President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, have lauded the Saudis for women's rights reforms and for signing on to a $110 billion military arms contract in 2017.

Jubeir also pushed back against a recent Amnesty International report, which said Saudi Arabia has imprisoned "virtually all" human rights defenders and independent voices. Jubeir described the foreign criticism as "hypocrisy." In December, the human rights organization said the sentences handed down to five men tied to Khashoggi's murder were a "whitewash" of justice.

Amnesty International was among several international agencies that condemned the Saudi public prosecutor's December verdict, which vindicated officials with direct ties to the crown prince: "[The verdict] fails to address the Saudi authorities' involvement in this devastating crime or clarify the location of Jamal Khashoggi's remains."

saudi arabia adel al-jubeir
Saudi Minister of State Adel al-Jubeir, who was demoted from Foreign Affairs Minister amid international outrage over the November 2018 Khashoggi allegations of murder, touted the Middle East kingdom's attractiveness to foreign business as proof officials did not order the killing. SEAN GALLUP / Staff/Getty Images