President Trump told the New York Times he believed that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist, was dead. He also expressed confidence in intelligence reports pointing to high-level Saudi involvement. The news came as Saudi Arabia was considering blaming a top intelligence official, Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, for the killing. Assiri is a high-level adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Blaming him could help deflect scrutiny from the crown prince. According to Turkey, killers were waiting for the Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. They severed his fingers during an interrogation. Then they beheaded and dismembered him. Trump, who defended Saudi Arabia against international condemnation over Khashoggi’s disappearance, has done an about-face, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin withdrew from the investor conference in Riyadh next week. On Wednesday, the Washington Post published Khashoggi’s final column, in which he lamented censorship of the press in the Middle East. He wrote, “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.

Zain speaks to the US correspondent Adrian Brune

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