Khashoggi murder: Tony Blair Institute kept advising Saudi Arabia after killing
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has continued to receive money from Saudi Arabia through his institute after the brutal killing of the journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, a new report has revealed.
The plan, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, involves opening up the country to tourism and entertainment.
The crown prince became a global pariah after he was accused of ordering the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi agents executed the 59-year-old journalist after luring him into the consulate, in an assassination that US intelligence believes was approved by the crown prince.
Blair has since justified the multi-million pound partnership that started in 2017 and through which his institute has worked with the Saudi ministries of information and culture to advise officials on policy and objectives for the modernisation programme.
In a statement given to The Times, Blair said that he “remains strongly of the view that staying engaged there is justified” despite the “terrible crime” that took place.
Blair said the relationship with Saudi Arabia was also based on the “immense and positive importance” of the crown prince’s reforms as well as the country’s “strategic importance” to the West.
While the crown prince has denied any involvement in the murder of Khashoggi, blaming rogue agents instead, Human Rights Watch says that the Saudi government has refused to cooperate with a proper investigation led by the UN.
The rights group has said evidence shows that responsibility for the murder goes beyond the 11 individuals who were put on trials for the murder.
When asked by The Times about why they had not previously disclosed the ongoing partnership with Saudi Arabia, the institute said that Blair has “publicly supported the modernisation programme of Mohammed bin Salman on several occasions” and that they do not list the countries they work in.
In the latest sign that the crown prince is being welcomed back into the fold by the West, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has invited him to visit the UK in the autumn, according to a report by The Financial Times.
If confirmed, it would be the crown prince's first visit to the UK since Khashoggi's murder.