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Treasury Sanctions 17 Saudis Over the Slaying of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

This image taken from CCTV video obtained by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and made available on Oct. 9, 2018 claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. (CCTV/Hurriyet via AP)

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department today sanctioned 17 Saudis under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for their role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.

Saudi officials first claimed Khashoggi, a regime critic who had gone to retrieve papers he needed to get married, left the consulate alive. Then, they said the Washington Post columnist had gone into the consulate, started a fight and was strangled to death in the melee. Then, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said the murder was premeditated, amid reports that a hit team specifically flew to Istanbul and back to kill Khashoggi.

The Treasury sanctions target Saud al-Qahtani, the media adviser to Prince Mohammed bin Salman who was dismissed from the royal court a few ago, as being “part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi” and was “coordinated and executed” by the crown prince’s aide Maher Mutreb. Also sanctioned is Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi, who runs Saudi operations in Istanbul.

Fourteen members of the team said to have participated in some way are Salah Tubaigy, Meshal Albostani, Naif Alarifi, Mohammed Alzahrani, Mansour Abahussain, Khalid Alotaibi, Abdulaziz Alhawsawi, Waleed Alsehri, Thaar Alharbi, Fahad Albalawi, Badr Alotaibi, Mustafa Almadani, Saif Alqahtani and Turki Alsehri.

“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi.  These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions. The United States continues to diligently work to ascertain all of the facts and will hold accountable each of those we find responsible in order to achieve justice for Khashoggi’s fiancée, children, and the family he leaves behind,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists.”

The sanctions follow a bipartisan letter from the Senate more than a month ago that triggered a mandatory administration probe into Khashoggi’s death per the rules of the Global Magnitsky Act.

One of the authors of that legislation, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), called the sanctions “an important step” but added he’s still “concerned that the administration is enabling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its effort to protect Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from accountability.”

“It is difficult for any reasonable person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s government to believe such high-level officials would conduct a plot of this significance without the direction of the crown prince,” Cardin noted.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that his department “will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”