The United States will impose sanctions on 17 citizens of Saudi Arabia, whom it accuses of being involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The sanctions include freezing any assets they may have in the United States and prohibiting US citizens from engaging in economic transactions with them.
The Treasury Department, in a statement released Thursday, considers that the 17 “were involved in the abhorrent murder” of the journalist, columnist for The Washington Post, critical of the Saudi regime, “who resided and worked in the United States. The announcement comes after Riad claimed he had charged 11 people with the crime. Five of the 11 defendants, according to the Saudi prosecutor’s office, face the death penalty.
“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were implicated in the abhorrent murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, said in the statement. “These individuals who attacked and brutally murdered a journalist who lived and worked in the United States must face the consequences of their actions.
The United States continues to work diligently to verify all the facts and will hold accountable those we find responsible for achieving justice for Khashoggi’s fiancée, her children and the family that survives her. The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any attacks on political dissidents or journalists.
Khashoggi was killed on 2 October at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where he had initially gone to carry out a personal procedure related to his future marriage to a Turkish citizen, and was required to attend a second appointment, from which he did not return.
Unlike the Saudi press release, the US government press release suggests that the assassination was planned. Riad argues that the decision to kill Khashoggi was improvised by one of the agents who had been sent to take the journalist to Saudi Arabia. Neither government involves Mohamed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and strongman of the Desert Kingdom, whom Turkey considers indirectly responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
Among the 17 sanctioned by the United States under the so-called Magnitsky law, which punishes people accused of corruption or involved in human rights violations, is Saud al-Qahtani, a senior official of the Riyadh regime who is accused of being part of the planning and execution of the operation.
Ahmed al-Assiri, number two in the intelligence service and close to the Crown Prince, whom the Saudi prosecutor accuses of issuing the order to persuade or force Khashoggi to return to his country, is not listed. The operation, according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s version, “was coordinated and executed by his subordinate Maher Mutreb. The list of those sanctioned is completed by 14 other Riyadh government officials and the consul general in Istanbul, Mohamed Alotaibi.