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CIA chief to brief senators on Khashoggi murder: US media

CIA Director Gina Haspel will give a closed-door briefing to leaders of several US Senate committees this week on the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, US media reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the briefing will take place on Tuesday.

Reuters news agency, citing a source familiar with the planned meeting, said Haspel will brief the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations committees. The Reuters source added that the Senate Intelligence Committee already had been briefed by the CIA chief.

A Senate source also said Senate leaders would also participate in the briefing, which is scheduled for 11:30am local time (16:30 GMT).

The CIA would not confirm or deny whether the briefing would take place.

The expected meeting comes after senators from both parties expressed anger that Haspel, who has listened to an audio tape of the killing and reviewed evidence assembled by Turkish authorities, was not part in a closed-door briefing last week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on the issue.

The CIA has reportedly assessed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

The 59-year-old journalist, a critic of MBS, was killed on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his planned marriage.

After offering contradictory statements, Saudi Arabia admitted last month that Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate and his body was dismembered. The kingdom has repeatedly said Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the killing, which Turkey said was ordered at the highest level of Saudi leadership.

At last week’s briefing, Pompeo and Mattis said there was no hard evidence the crown prince was behind the killing and urged senators not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the incident.

Hours after that briefing the Senate voted 63-37 to take up a resolution aimed at limiting US involvement in the war in Yemen, where a Washington-backed Saudi-UAE coalition launched an intervention in 2015 through a massive air campaign targeting Houthi rebels. The next vote on the bill could come as early as Thursday.

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