Published:  01:00 AM, 09 November 2019

Saudi king hosts CIA chief for talks

Saudi king hosts CIA chief for talks Saudi Arabia's King Salman

Saudi Arabia's King Salman hosted the Central Intelligence Agency's director Thursday, state media said, after three people were charged in the US with spying on Twitter users critical of the royal family. The king and Gina Haspel "discussed a number of topics of mutual interest", the official Saudi Press Agency said, without offering details.

The meeting in Riyadh was attended by a number of Saudi officials including Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and intelligence chief Khalid al-Humaidan. Haspel's visit comes after a US court on Wednesday charged three people, including two Saudis, with spying on Twitter users critical of the kingdom's royal family.

The trio including two former Twitter employees allegedly worked to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of someone prosecutors designated "Royal Family Member-1". The Washington Post reported the latter to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Ties between firm allies Washington and Riyadh have been strained over the brutal murder last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A critic of Prince Mohammed, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

 The CIA has reportedly concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder, a charge vigorously denied by Riyadh.

---Reuters

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