The website promoting Saudi Arabia‘s upcoming investment conference was apparently hacked on Monday, briefly showing a doctored image of the kingdom’s crown prince wielding a bloody sword over murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Dozens of business leaders, prominent speakers and media companies — including CNBC — pulled out of the second annual Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh following allegations that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Saudi government on Friday acknowledged the Saudi operatives were behind Khashoggi’s death, after initially claiming the journalist left the consulate alive. Saudi Arabia took 18 people into custody, including the 15 agents identified by Turkish authorities.
The kingdom has sought to distance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon from the slaying. Several of the accused killers have been linked to the king-in-waiting.
The image on the Future Investment Initiative website, captured by several news agencies before the website went down, depicts Prince Mohammed wearing a robe labeled ISIS and standing next to a gun-wielding figure who resembles a fighter aligned with the terrorist group. Khashoggi is depicted kneeling in front of the crown prince.
A caption beneath the image implores nations around the world to slap sanctions on Saudi Arabia and accuses the kingdom of financing terrorism.
“The regime, aligned with the United States, must be kept responsible for its barbaric and inhuman action, such as killing its own citizen Jamal Khashoggi and thousands of innocent people in Yemen,” the caption reads in English, referring to the war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have raised the prospect of sanctioning Saudi Arabia or canceling weapons sales to the nation. Several have expressed deep skepticism about the Saudi account of events.
Riyadh said on Friday that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Prince Mohammed, died during a physical altercation after being confronted by the Saudi agents in the Istanbul consulate.
President Donald Trump initially said he found the explanation credible and has said he is reluctant to suspend billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, Trump cast doubt on the Saudis’ story, telling the Washington Post there has been “deception” and “lies” from the kingdom.