Saudi crown prince: 'Khashoggi would not even be among the top 1,000 people' prioritized for assassination

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with The Atlantic that it was "obvious" he had not ordered the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, contrary to the conclusion of Western governments, implying that the slain journalist was not important enough to kill.

"I never read a Khashoggi article in my life," Mohammed said, adding that if he were to send executioners, he would choose a more valuable target - and better assassins.

"If that's the way we did things, Khashoggi would not even be among the top 1,000 people on the list. If you're going to go for another operation like that, for another person, it's got to be professional and it's got to be one of the top 1,000," he said.

A U.S. intelligence report released last year concluded that the crown prince had personally approved the killing and dismemberment of the U.S.-based journalist, who was critical of the Riyadh government, at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Before winning the 2020 election, President Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia "pay the price" for the Khashoggi killing and turn the country into a "pariah."

Mohammed told The Atlantic that "simply, I do not care" if Biden misunderstands him, adding, "It's up to him to think about the interests of America."

He added that intelligence linking him to the Khashoggi killing "hurt me a lot."

"It hurt me and it hurt Saudi Arabia, from a feelings perspective," he added.

"The Khashoggi incident was the worst thing ever to happen to me, because it could have ruined all of my plans" for the country, the 36-year-old de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia said.

"I feel that human-rights law wasn't applied to me," he added.

"Article XI of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that any person is innocent until proven guilty."