Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal on Khashoggi: Crown Prince Is "For Real" Changing Saudi Arabia


One year since Prince Al-Waleed was imprisoned by the Saudi crown prince. Prince Al-Waleed speaks out about the murder of Khashoggi and the crown prince, Mohemmed bin Salman in an interview with Fox News Channel's Maria Bartiromo.


MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Today marks one year to the day since Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family and a global investor, was imprisoned by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, this as the kingdom now faces renewed scrutiny over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Joining me right now in this exclusive is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal himself, the founder and chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company.

Your Highness, thank you very much for joining us this morning. It is good to see you.

And let me get right into it.

It has been a year since you were imprisoned. It was about a year ago that I sat down with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and he told me there on stage and told the world he wants to modernize Saudi Arabia, he wants to live like normal people, allow women to drive, allow movie theaters, so people can go out.

And then you're imprisoned two weeks later with other ministers. We understand you were tortured. And just a month ago, a brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, where his body was dismembered.

Is Mohammed bin Salman for real, or is he lying to us about this modernization plan?


It's a pleasure, not only to be with you again, Maria.

Now, yesterday is the anniversary of my detention one year ago. But I think this incident is behind us. And I believe that incident was important history for Saudi Arabia, because many of those detainees deserved to be there, because Saudi Arabia did have a lot of corruption.

And thank God that, after this incident, many of those that were detained had a big cleaning process.

Now, as for me, I did say that there was a misunderstanding in the Reuters interview. In the Bloomberg interview, I said there was an understanding after. And I'm out now, no (INAUDIBLE) at all -- no problems at all.

And I said what happened was forgiven and forgotten. So that's behind us. And we are on excellent terms with the crown prince, with the king and Saudi Arabia.

Now, as for Crown Prince Mohammed, yes, I assure you he is for real. And all that he is doing is changing Saudi Arabia in a very revolutionary manner, socially, economically, financially, and even on the (INAUDIBLE) front.

So, Saudi Arabia right now is witnessing huge development and changes. And, as you know, I'm a member of the royal family, happily so. I do not represent the government, so I will be speaking to you very freely and openly and independently, as usual.

As for the Jamal Khashoggi incident, you know, you have to understand, Jamal wasn't only my friend. He was working with me. Actually, his last job in Saudi Arabia was me and the Arab channel.

And I would like to give, through you, my condolences again to his family, to his wife, ex-wife, and to his children, and to his family, because Jamal was a reformer. He was no opposition at all.

And what took place in that Saudi Consulate was clearly horrific...


PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: ... despicable, unspeakable, and tragic.

And I believe that Saudi Arabia is going to get to the bottom of it, but, please, you have to give us some time until the investigation is done and made public by the government of Saudi Arabia.

BARTIROMO: But let me -- I want to go back to your detention for a moment.

But since we're on Jamal Khashoggi, you said Mohammed bin Salman is for real, that he does want to do the right thing and modernize Saudi Arabia.

And yet we know from the group that brutally murdered Jamal Khashoggi, several of them were aides to Mohammed bin Salman. One of them, we have seen with him many times in other pictures.

We also know that, after the murder, the Saudis sent a cleanup crew to clean the embassy, to wipe away any evidence of it. And we also know that the Turkish government says they have it all on tape and all on hot microphones, the way he was brutally murdered.

So, you say Mohammed bin Salman is for real, but the evidence doesn't point that way, sir.


See, in your question, you're implying that the orders were given by Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly. And that's a false statement.

Now, Saudi Arabia acknowledged publicly that -- that a murder did happen in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, so that's been acknowledged already.

Now, Saudi Arabia did acknowledge also that they had a standing order -- now, I disagree with that order completely, by the way -- is that, whenever there is an opposition to Saudi Arabia by any human being outside Saudi Arabia, the standing orders, which I said -- I repeat -- I disagree with, was to engage with them, talk to them, and try to convince them to come to Saudi Arabia.

So I think some people in intelligence did commit -- did follow these orders and sent a group of people to Turkey to engage with Jamal Khashoggi. And, clearly, something went wrong over there, whereby he was murdered.

So, let us not really, please, anticipate what's going to happen in the -- in the investigation that Saudi Arabia is taking right now.

Please, I remind you, for the Abu Ghraib incident, whereby thousands of Iraqis were tortured, raped, molested, and were pictured and videotaped also, and, at that time, many of the Western media went back to George W. Bush, the ex -- the president then, and Mr. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary then, and tried to get the blame on him.

Clearly, after a few months of investigation, they were exonerated.


PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: So, please, let's give some time for the investigation to finish.

And I ask Saudi Arabia now, publicly, through a program, that the investigation be made public as soon as possible, so, whereby I believe that the Saudi crown prince will be 100 percent vindicated and exonerated.

BARTIROMO: Your Highness, we're going to take a short break.

When we come back, I want you to take us behind the curtain and tell us what happened to you when you were imprisoned. A lot of people believe you were tortured and you had to give up your entire fortune.

We're going to take a break and talk about that, as well as the way forward for the United States and Saudi Arabia.

More of my exclusive interview with Prince Al-Waleed when we come back.


BARTIROMO: And I'm back with His Royal Highness, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal.

Prince Al-Waleed, a moment ago, we discussed your detention one year ago today. Were you tortured? And did you have to give up your fortune to the Saudi government?

PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: Yes, Maria, you know, that's exactly what I tell you when the media goes beyond its limits and commit all these lies, innuendoes and rumors.

You know, I was watching all the programs on TV while I was in the so-called detention...


PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: ... when I was -- when I heard that a team in the United States came to torture me and my feet was up and my head was down, and I went to a high-security prison.

All these were lies, not true, false statement completely. And I heard also the rumors that all my wealth was taken up. My wealth is completely as it is, intact.

Just look at Saudi stock market, the Tadawul, and you see I still own 95 percent of Kingdom Holding, 100 percent, complete control of Rotana in almost 98 percent.

So, all false.


BARTIROMO: Are you still -- are you saying you own Kingdom Holdings and all your high-profile stakes, like an ownership stake in Citigroup, in Twitter, in News Corp.?

Of course, News Corp. shares the same common ownership as the parent of this company, FOX News, 21st Century Fox.

PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: Please, please, just look at the Tadawul, the Tadawul, our stock market. It just shows 95 percent owned by Al-Waleed. Just look at it.

And you don't have to ask me. It's all public information.

BARTIROMO: And -- and -- OK.

Let me move on to the way forward, sir, because now there are questions about the U.S. and Saudi partnership.

New sanctions go into effect against Iran tomorrow. Do you believe those sanctions will be effective? And how should the U.S. and the Saudi Arabia government move forward, with or without MBS?


No, please, Saudi Arabia is a vehicle of tranquility, stability and integrity in this region. Look at all our vicinity. Look at Yemen. Look at Iraq. Look at Syria. Look at Iran. They're all turbulent.

Saudi Arabia is the vehicle of stability in this region. So our allies -- our alliance since 1945, when our king, Abdul Abdulaziz, met President Roosevelt, is well-established, and it's going to be intact, and it's going to be living for a long time to come.

BARTIROMO: Well there's a report this morning that China could buy oil from the U.S., instead of Iran, as part of a trade deal.

What does that mean for the Saudis, very quickly? We're about to run out of time, sir.

PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: Well, I mean, that's China's discretion.

You know, Saudi Arabia has increased its production to be sure to fulfill of...

BARTIROMO: That's true.

PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TALAL: ... the amount of -- the amount that is not being produced.

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