WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – The U.S. intelligence community has replaced its long-awaited report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi with another version that saw the names of three men it had initially identified as complicit removed.
CNN reported on Monday that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) switched the report several hours after it was published on Friday afternoon.
The first link to the report that was sent out by ODNI stopped working and was replaced with a second version, whose file name on the ODNI website includes "v2”, that removed three of the men it had just announced had "participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi”.
CNN said the change went largely unnoticed amid outrage over the failure of Joe Biden’s administration to impose sanctions on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) after the report confirmed that he had directly approved the assassination.
The fiancée of Khashoggi called on Monday for MbS to be punished after a U.S. intelligence report found he had approved the killing.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post criticizing Saudi policies, was killed and dismembered by a team linked to the crown prince in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince, rejected the report’s findings.
"It is essential that the crown prince... should be punished without delay,” Hatice Cengiz said on Twitter. "If the crown prince is not punished, it will forever signal that the main culprit can get away with murder which will endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity.”
Asked about criticism of Washington for not sanctioning Prince Mohammed directly, Biden said an announcement would be made on Monday, but did not provide details, while a White House official suggested no new steps were expected.
"Starting with the Biden administration, it is vital for all world leaders to ask themselves if they are prepared to shake hands with a person whose culpability as a murderer has been proven,” Cengiz said.
The White House has cited national interests to justify why Biden has let bin Salman off the hook.
"We believe there is more effective ways to make sure this doesn’t happen again and to also be able to leave room to work with the Saudis on areas where there is mutual agreement – where there is national interests for the United States,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Dana Bash on "State of the Union” on Sunday morning.
"That is what diplomacy looks like,” added Psaki, who called Khashoggi’s murder a "horrific crime” earlier this month.