(CNN)Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, hit back at Joe Biden after the US President confronted him about the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a meeting between the two leaders on Friday.
In the meeting, Bin Salman, also known as MBS, denied responsibility for the killing of Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. Biden said he indicated that he disagreed with MBS, based on US intelligence assessments, according to the source.
In response to Biden bringing up Khashoggi, MBS cited the sexual and physical abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison by US military personnel and the May killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank as incidents that reflected poorly on the US, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, told reporters on Saturday.
“The Crown Prince responded to President Biden’s remarks on … Khashoggi after quite clearly — that this crime, while very unfortunate and abhorrent, is something that the kingdom took very seriously (and) acted upon in a way commiserate with its position as a responsible country,” bin Farhan said. “These are issues, mistakes that happen in any country, including the US. The Crown Prince pointed out that the US has made its own mistakes and has taken the necessary action to hold those responsible accountable and address these mistakes just as the kingdom has.”
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir echoed the sentiment in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer shortly after the end of the meeting, which Jubeir was part of.
“We investigated, punished and ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Jubeir said when asked about the Khashoggi murder. “This is what countries do. This is what the US did when the mistake of Abu Ghraib was committed.”
The Abu Ghraib prison was a US Army detention center for captured Iraqis from the start of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 until the prison’s closure in 2006. In 2004, a trove of graphic images from the prison was leaked, depicting the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US military personnel. Eleven US soldiers were convicted of crimes relating to the scandal.
Renowned Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh was lethally gunned down during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
Abu Akleh was a household name in the Arab world, having spent decades reporting on the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Footage obtained by CNN — corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert — suggested that Abu Akleh, who was wearing a helmet and blue protective vest marked “Press” at the time of her killing, was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces.
In the West Bank on Friday, Biden said the US insists on a “full and transparent accounting” of the killing of the journalist.
Biden called Abu Akleh’s death an “enormous loss” as he stood alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
“I hope that her legacy … will inspire more young people to carry on her work of reporting the truth and telling stories that are too often overlooked. The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world,” Biden said.
Palestinian officials and members of Abu Akleh’s family have criticized the US probe and are urging the US to do more to hold Israel accountable for the killing.