CIA head to brief Congress on Khashoggi

Gina HaspelImage copyright

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Gina Haspel is reportedly angry over the leak of CIA findings

The head of the CIA will now brief Congress on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Director Gina Haspel is to talk to Senate leaders on Tuesday.

She was absent from last week’s briefing by the secretaries of state and defence, angering some in Congress.

Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. The CIA has concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “probably ordered” the killing.

The Saudis have charged 11 people but deny that the crown prince was involved.

The CIA has evidence he exchanged messages with Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the murder.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis had told senators last week there was no direct evidence of the crown prince’s involvement.

President Donald Trump has said the CIA findings on the crown prince were not conclusive. On 20 November he said: “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t.”

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How the story unfolded

Gina Haspel is also reportedly angry about the leak of the CIA findings to the media.

The CIA has not commented on Tuesday’s briefing.

How did senators react to last week’s no-show?

Many senators are unhappy with Mr Trump’s response to the Khashoggi murder, and their anger was exacerbated by Ms Haspel’s failure to attend the briefing.

As a result, they voted by 63 votes to 37 last week to advance a measure to withdraw American support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

A similar resolution came up for a Senate vote earlier in the year and failed to pass.

“It’s time to send Saudi Arabia a message, both on its violation of human rights and the incredible humanitarian catastrophe it’s creating in Yemen,” Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would withhold his vote on any major legislation until Ms Haspel was allowed to brief the full Senate.

“The way the administration had handled the Saudi Arabia event is just not acceptable,” he said.

“The briefing did not help me at all better understand the role that [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] played in the killing of Mr Khashoggi.”

Who was Jamal Khashoggi?

As a prominent journalist, he covered major stories including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden for various Saudi news organisations.

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Jamal Khashoggi had gone to Istanbul to obtain a marriage document

For decades he was close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government.

But he fell out of favour and went into self-imposed exile in the US last year. From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Mohammed bin Salman.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Frank Gardner looks at what could happen to the man known as MBS

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