Former Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has compared the process that led to last year’s murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi to the many rights abuses committed at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Abu Ghraib was a U.S. Army detention center that housed captured Iraqis from 2003 to 2006.
Answering Margaret Brennan’s questions on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, al-Jubeir conceded that Khashoggi’s untimely death late last year had been a “massive tragedy”.
“It was a mistake,” he said. “It was committed by officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority.”
Faced with repeated demands for details of the murder and questions regarding the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body, al-Jubeir cited recent examples of rights abuses committed by U.S. forces based overseas.
“At Abu Ghraib, you had people abusing prisoners — and the president, vice-president and secretary of state were not even aware of it,” he said.
“Unfortunately, people make mistakes,” he added. “Unfortunately, people exceed their authorities.”
Al-Jubeir went on to assert that the Saudi authorities did not know the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body.
On Dec. 27, al-Jubeir was replaced as foreign minister by Ibrahim al-Assaf. The move came as part of a cabinet reshuffle ordered by King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
An occasional contributor to The Washington Post, Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After producing contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged that he had been killed inside the consulate, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation by rogue agents.
Turkey has sought the extradition of the Saudi nationals involved in the murder, along with a full account of the incident from the Saudi leadership.