Saudi Arabia

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Over the past week the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has provoked an oil price war with Russia, sending energy and stock markets into a tailspin, and ordered the detention of four senior members of the country's royal family. Our guest, New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, says no one should be surprised by erratic behavior from the crown prince, who is probably best known for his association with the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi carried out by his agents in Turkey.

Updated at 10:52 p.m. ET

Oil prices and stock indexes were in freefall Sunday after Saudi Arabia announced a stunning discount in oil prices — of $6 to $8 per barrel — to its customers in Asia, the United States and Europe.

Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET Friday

If Jeff Bezos can't keep his phone safe, how can the rest of us hope to?

Sure, Bezos, Amazon's CEO and the owner of The Washington Post, is smart and presumably has good security people helping him, says Matthew Green, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University. But, Green says, "the bad thing about being Jeff Bezos is that there are a lot of people with huge amounts of money who want to hack you."

Updated at 1:18 p.m. ET

In 2018, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent a WhatsApp message to the world's richest man. That message was behind a high-profile hack of Jeff Bezos' phone, according to a report commissioned by the Amazon CEO and reviewed by United Nations human rights experts.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr announced Monday that 21 Saudi military cadets studying at U.S. military bases are being sent back to their home country after investigators found child pornography, "jihadi or anti-American content" on accounts or devices associated with the students.

The announcement comes a month after a Saudi national opened fire in a classroom at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., killing three young sailors and wounding eight others.

Updated 8:38 p.m. Sunday ET

The Trump administration is planning to announce on Monday that more than 20 Saudi students receiving military training in the United States will be sent back to their home country, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The expulsions come in the wake of a Pentagon review of the Saudi officer who opened fire last month at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., leaving three young sailors dead and wounding eight others.

The U.S. killing of senior Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani left many of America's allies in the Middle East confused and nervous. That includes Saudi Arabia, the top regional rival of Iran.

The Saudi-U.S. relationship has become particularly close since President Trump took office. It could prove to be a double-edged sword for the kingdom, analysts say, as Iran contemplates its next moves. Iran and Saudi Arabia have long battled for regional dominance, and the U.S. has supported the Saudi-led war in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi forces.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death in the killing last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The court sentenced three others to prison terms adding up to 24 years, while exonerating two senior aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The trial was conducted in secret, and the defendants' names have not been released. The three people receiving prison sentences were found to have participated in covering up the crime. All the verdicts can be appealed.

The U.S. Navy has indefinitely suspended flight training for more than 300 Saudi Arabian students at three Florida bases in the aftermath of the deadly shooting by a Saudi Air Force officer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station last week.

Classroom training will resume this week and flight training for other international students will start again, according to Navy officials who call the restriction a "safety stand-down."

The move affects 140 Saudi trainees at Pensacola Naval Air Station, 35 at nearby Whiting Field, and 128 at Naval Air Station Mayport.

The Glock handgun that was used in Friday's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola was purchased legally in the U.S., the FBI says. Mohammed Alshamrani, a Saudi national, used the weapon to kill three sailors and wound eight more people.

Alshamrani was "a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command" in Pensacola, according to Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office.

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