The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the Saudi government's assertion that the de facto ruler did not know of the murder plot, according to a senior US official.
The senior US official told CNN on Friday that the conclusion is based on a recording provided by the Turkish government and other evidence, including American intelligence.
Investigators also believe an operation such as the killing of Khashoggi would not have happened without bin Salman's knowledge, given his control of the government, the senior US official said.
44the claims in this purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.45
The Washington Post was first to report the CIA's assessment.
According to the Post, US officials have high confidence in the CIA's assessment.
A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment to the Post. The Saudi government has denied bin Salman's involvement in Khashoggi's death.
The BBC adds that Prince Khaled, now back in Saudi Arabia, said on Twitter that he had not been in contact with Khashoggi for nearly a year. He said he had never suggested Khashoggi – who had been in London for a conference until the day before his disappearance – should go to Turkey for any reason.
This denial is being carried prominently in Saudi media, the BBC's Sebastian Usher in Riyadh reports.
Neither the White House nor the US State Department has commented on the reports, but sources say they have been informed of the CIA's conclusions.