In a trailer released Tuesday for an upcoming documentary, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Martin Smith, a reporter for the PBS program Frontline, that he had no prior knowledge of the plot to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi but that he bears “all the responsibility” because it “happened under my watch.”
The killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul almost a year ago shocked the world and tarnished the reputation of the prince, according to The New York Times. The incident also affected bin Salman’s plans to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil an open up cloistered Saudi society.
While the prince claims to have not been involved in the plot, the C.I.A. and some Western governments have said they believe he ordered it, according to Reuters. Khashoggi, a Saudi reporter for The Washington Post, had occasionally criticized bin Salman in opinion articles.
When asked how the murder could have happened without his knowledge, bin Salman stated that the country has 20 million people and 3 million government employees. Smith also asked the prince whether government employees could use private government jets without his knowledge, to which he responded that they could.
“I have officials, ministers to follow things and they’re responsible, they have the authority to do that,” he said.
Eleven suspects in the killing are currently on trial, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against five of them, according to The New York Times. None of the suspects have been named, and diplomats who have attended court sessions have been sworn to silence.
At an investment conference bin Salman hosted shortly after Khashoggi’s death, he called it a “heinous crime” and a “painful incident” and promised that justice would be served.
According to USA Today, Khashoggi’s death prompted calls from some American lawmakers to alter American foreign policy on Saudi Arabia. A UN report has also called for bin Salman and other government officials to be investigated.
The documentary, “The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” is set to air Oct. 1, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s death.