Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) seeks to bring the trial of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi suspects before the 2020 presidential election campaigns start, according to an Emirati intelligence document, as reported by the Middle East Eye. "It was a wise step for Riyadh to move quickly to close the case and indict those responsible before the start of the American presidential election," the document revealed. "Otherwise the killing could have been turned into one of the presidential debate topics."
The Trump administration has sought a close relationship with MBS, the country's crown prince and next in line to the throne. Riyadh has worked to cultivate warm relations with President Donald Trump after having rocky moments with former President Barack Obama. Meeting MBS at the last G20 meeting in Osaka, Trump said the 33-year-old leader was doing a "spectacular job." Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives in the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.
Initially denying and later downplaying the incident as an accidental killing in a fistfight, almost three weeks after the disappearance, Riyadh finally admitted that Khashoggi was murdered in a premeditated action but denied any involvement of the royal family. The incident was blamed on lower-level officials. Still, Khashoggi's body has not been recovered and the kingdom has remained silent on its whereabouts. The U.N. human rights expert who conducted an independent probe into the murder of Khashoggi, Agnes Callamard, said in a report last month that the state of Saudi Arabia was responsible for the murder. The report also found "credible evidence" that linked Saudi Prince Salman to the killing of Khashoggi.