Saudi Arabia restructures intelligence service after Khashoggi murder

RIYADH • Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of three new government bodies aimed at improving intelligence operations in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which has sparked international outrage.

King Salman ordered a restructuring of the intelligence service in October after the authorities, following initial denials, acknowledged that Mr Khashoggi had been killed inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate by Saudi intelligence and security agents.

Riyadh claims the 15-man team was put together by the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency Ahmed al-Asiri, whom the king fired along with royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani.

The new government departments - for strategy and development, legal affairs, and performance evaluation and internal review - are meant to ensure that intelligence operations align with national security policy, international law and human rights treaties, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

They were created by a committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's Defence Minister. He has denied accusations of ordering the hit against Mr Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of the 33-year-old crown prince.

Western allies have called on Riyadh to hold those responsible for the murder accountable. The public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five suspects, as Riyadh tries to contain its biggest political crisis for a generation.

The US Senate last week blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder, in a rare rebuke to President Donald Trump, who has said he wants Washington to stand by the de facto leader, despite a CIA assessment it was likely he ordered the killing.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Saudi Arabia restructures intelligence service after Khashoggi murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe