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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 told a top aide he would use "a bullet" on Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist killed last October, according to a report by The New York Times on Thursday.

USA intelligence analysists reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed had likely used the phrase a metaphor, expressing his intention to kill the journalists unless he returned to Saudi Arabia. As details of the murder surfaced, global outrage against the crown prince - seen as the de facto leader of the kingdom - ensued.

Riyadh, which initially denied knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance before offering contradictory explanations, has steadfastly insisted the prince was not involved in the killing.

Saudi Arabia has refused to extradite its citizens to Turkey after the country issued arrest warrants for several Saudi officials. Trump announced in November that he would not downgrade the USA relationship with Saudi Arabia, regardless of whether Saudi rulers were culpable.

'Our leadership is a red line, ' al-Jubeir added.

Khashoggi was murdered on October 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he went to collect documents to marry Cengiz.

He declined to disclose the names of those standing trial in Saudi Arabia for the killing, but said sessions had been attended by representatives of the five members of the UN Security Council. He repeated his government's insistence that the crown prince "did not order this".

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Riyadh has consistently maintained that bin Salman was not involved in the murder - an assertion that has been met with scepticism from political analysts, intelligence officials, journalists and United States politicians, who say such an operation could not have been authorised without his approval.

There are separate photographs of Khashoggi meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is believed to have ordered his murder.

A United Nations special investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has found clear evidence Saudi Arabia officials planned and carried out the murder, calling it "the gravest violation of the right to life".

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have not backed the evidence of USA intelligence that the prince nearly certainly ordered the killing, or at least knew of it.

Callamard had "major concerns" about the fairness of proceedings for 11 Saudis facing trial in the kingdom and had sought a visit there.

Secret phone calls have revealed a disturbing threat the Saudi Crown Prince made a year before Jamal Khashoggi's death.

"I have hope, not necessarily regarding Trump, but about the fact that the new Congress will follow this case more closely", she said.


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