President Biden dismissed a “silly question” about whether or not his newfound friendship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman could give the ruler more freedom to assassinate political opponents such as Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was murdered in a Saudi Consulate in 2018.
Khashoggi’s murder is believed to have occured on October 2, 2018. That day, he was seen entering the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Turkey but never seen leaving. Turkish officials allege that he was murdered and dismembered, and Western intelligence officials determined that Salman was ultimately responsible for ordering his murder.
President Biden had previously condemned the action and had sought to avoid using him as a resource. However, rising gas prices prompted him to quickly rekindle the relationship with Salman.
After the meeting, which was largely behind closed doors, as reporters were asked to leave, a female reporter asked the president, “How can you be sure that another incident — another murder like Jamal Khashoggi won’t happen again?”
“God love you. What a silly question. How could I possibly be sure of any of that?” Biden replied.
“I just made it clear if anything occurs like that again, they would get that response and much more,” he said, adding: “Can I predict anything’s gonna happen? Let alone here, let alone any other part of the world? No.”
“No one has ever wondered if I mean what I say, the question is that I sometimes say all that I mean,” the president concluded.
Biden claimed to have brought up Khashoggi’s murder at the beginning of the meeting, although it is impossible to verify.
According to him, Salman “basically said he was not personally responsible” and that he “took action against those who were responsible.”
In September of 2020, eight individuals whose identities remain unknown, were put in prison for the murder of Khashoggi. A Saudi court ruled for a maximum 20-year sentence for five of them, one received a 10-year sentence, and two received a 7-year sentence.
The trial was widely criticized by human rights officials and a U.N. investigator. No one suspected of ordering the killing was found guilty, including officials in the Saudi government and Salman himself.
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