Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a "dangerous Islamist" in a phone call with President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser John Bolton, The Washington Post reported
In the call, which occurred before the Kingdom publicly acknowledged Khashoggi's death, the Crown Prince urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the US-Saudi alliance and said the journalist was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group long opposed by Bolton and other senior Trump officials, informed sources told The Post on Thursday.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Khashoggi's family called the characterisation of the murdered columnist as a "dangerous Islamist" as inaccurate.
The attempt to criticise Khashoggi in private stands in contrast to the Saudi government's later public statements decrying his death as a "terrible mistake" and "terrible tragedy", the sources said.
"The incident that happened is very painful, for all Saudis," the Crown Prince said during a panel discussion last week.
"The incident is not justifiable."
Another informed source told The Washington Post Bolton did not signal that he endorsed the Crown Prince's characterisation of Khashoggi during the call.
A Saudi official has denied that the Crown Prince made the allegations, saying that "routine calls do exist from time to time" between the young leader and top US officials but that "no such commentary was conveyed".
Saudi Arabia has faced international condemnation for its shifting accounts of Khashoggi's disappearance on October 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The Kingdom initially said Khashoggi walked out of the consulate unharmed but then said Saudi agents had accidentally killed him in a fistfight, and more recently announced that it had evidence that his killing was "premeditated".