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US Senator Seeks to Declassify Report on Khashoggi’s Murder in Saudi Consulate

Democrat Ronald Lee Wyden was invoking the Senate’s power to unilaterally declassify intelligence material to push the Trump administration to release a report into the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi, Reuters reported. Khashoggi — an outspoken critic of Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman— went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017. The Washington Post columnist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. Inside Riyadh’s mission, he was confronted by a Saudi hit team, who killed him and brutally dismembered his body. The CIA has concluded that bin Salman had ordered the murder. The journalist’s remains have yet to be found. US spy agency's report was due by law to have been released earlier this month, a deadline the Democratic senator said the administration had flouted. The goal, Wyden told reporters, was “naming names with respect to who ordered it, who was complicit, and what might have been done to prevent it.” Even though the Senate has the power under a 1970s-era authority to unilaterally declassify information, no such move has ever made it out of the Intelligence Committee on which the Oregon Democrat serves as a member. Steven Aftergood, with the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said threatening to use the authority might push the administration to find “an acceptable middle ground - an unclassified version of the assessment, a classified briefing, or something else.” Wyden said an unclassified assessment was what he was after, predicting that the push would draw support from at least some Republicans on the committee. “I don’t think there’s a lot of Republican support for carrying water for nondisclosure here,” he said.

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