The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, according to US intelligence agencies.
That comes from a report that the office of the new US intelligence coordinator Avril Haines published in Washington on Friday.
Immediately afterwards, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that he would impose entry restrictions on 76 citizens of Saudi Arabia.
Blinken said they were believed to have "been involved in the threat to dissidents abroad" like Khashoggi.
However, the US State Department did not provide any information in the communication about who the entry restrictions will apply.
Riyadh, meanwhile, "completely" rejected the US report.
The assessments of the US secret services, which concern the Saudi Arabian leadership, are "wrong and unacceptable", announced the State Department in Riyadh on Friday.
It is "regrettable" that the US report with its "unjustified and incorrect conclusions" had been published "while the kingdom clearly condemned this heinous crime" and the leadership in Riyadh had "taken the necessary steps" to "ensure that that such a tragedy can never happen again, ”declared the Foreign Ministry with a view to the murder of Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a special command from Riyadh.
There is still no trace of his body to this day.
Khashoggi lived in the US state of Virginia and wrote columns for the Washington Post, which often contained criticism of the Saudi monarchy.
His fiancée at the time reacted with dismay to the publication of a US intelligence report.
"I am devastated," Hatice Cengiz told CNN.
"Now I believe he will never return".
Cengiz called on political leaders around the world to do justice to their dead fiancé.
After the disappearance of Khashoggi, the leadership of the Islamic-conservative kingdom was exposed to harsh international criticism.
She only admitted the murder under international pressure.
The traces led to the closest circle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who however always denied having ordered the killing himself.
According to the report, the US secret services based their assessment on the fact that the Crown Prince had "absolute control over the security and intelligence organizations of the kingdom" since 2017.
It is therefore "highly unlikely" that such an operation would be carried out without his permission.
The participation of an important advisor to Bin Salman in the operation and the support of the Crown Prince for violent measures to silence dissidents abroad speak in favor of such approval.
Blinken announced on Friday a new visa regulation called "Khashoggi ban".
It allows his ministry to impose visa restrictions on people who are involved in activities against dissidents outside their country on behalf of foreign governments.
Biden is taking a harder course than Saudi Arabia
Blinken emphasized that the new US President Joe Biden had made it clear that the partnership with Saudi Arabia must reflect the values of the USA.
"Extraterritorial threats and attacks by Saudi Arabia against activists, dissidents and journalists" would not be tolerated by the USA.
Biden had called the Saudi King Salman for the first time on Thursday.
The White House said afterwards that Biden had reaffirmed the importance the US attaches to human rights and the rule of law.
In 2019, a UN human rights expert came to the conclusion that there was credible evidence of possible personal responsibility of the heir to the throne and other high-ranking representatives of Saudi Arabia.
A few weeks after the crime, the Washington Post reported that the US secret service had come to the conclusion with a high degree of certainty that the Crown Prince had ordered the killing.
Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, had made billions in arms deals with Riyadh.
The Republican was an important ally of the Crown Prince with a rather lax attitude towards the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
Washington imposed sanctions on more than a dozen former Saudi government employees in connection with the murder of the journalist.
Trump stuck to his support for the royal family in Riyadh.
The government of Democrat Biden has made it clear that it will realign relations with Saudi Arabia.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed on Thursday: "Our government is focused on re-calibrating the relationship." Biden already had a tougher course against Saudi Arabia and an end to US arms sales to the kingdom during the election campaign provided in promising.
According to US media reports, shortly after it took office last month, the new US administration suspended such sales pending a review.
In a move away from Trump’s strategy, Biden’s government has also announced that it will no longer support hostilities by the Saudi-led alliance against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Khashoggi had close ties with the Saudi royal family for a long time, but then fell out of favor.
In 2017 he went to the USA.
While in exile, he repeatedly expressed himself critical of the Saudi leadership, especially in columns for the Washington Post newspaper.
A trial of Khashoggi's murder is ongoing in Turkey.
A Saudi court sentenced five defendants to 20 years' imprisonment in the autumn, thus overturning the death penalty imposed on the five men at the end of last year.
Khashoggi's family had previously stated that they would forgive the perpetrators.