U.S. sanctions 17 Saudis it accuses of Jamal Khashoggi killing
The Treasury Department announced economic sanctions Thursday on 17 people the U.S. government says assisted in killing Saudi blogger Jamal Khashoggi.
The move is one of the most aggressive stances the Trump administration has taken since Mr. Khashoggi’s death, which the Saudi government has admitted to, though the circumstances remain shrouded in confusion.
The news comes just after Saudi prosecutors announced they are seeking the death penalty for five people allegedly involved in the murder.
The Saudi Public Prosecutor’s Office charged a total of 11 people, adding that the five suspects facing capital punishment were directly involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”
From Washington, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin’s announcement made clear the Trump administration also pins blame on some members of the Saudi regime.
He named Saud Al-Qahtani, a senior Saudi official he said was part of the planning and Oct. 2 killing of Mr. Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and others he said carried it out.
“These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
The sanctions include blocking any property or other financial interests the officials have that are under U.S. jurisdiction. Americans are also prohibited from engaging in business with them.
From Riyadh, Saudi prosecutors unveiled more gruesome details from Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, alleging he died following “a fight and a quarrel” that involved tying him up and injecting him with an overdose of sedatives.
The 59-year-old’s body was then dismembered and removed from the Saudi Consulate by five people before being handed off to a local collaborator.
Saudi prosecutors added that the mission was ordered by former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, who formed a team of 15 people to forcibly return Mr. Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia.
“The head of the negotiation team concluded that it would not be possible to transfer the victim by force to the safe location in case the negotiations with him to return failed,” the Saudi Public Prosecutor’s Office was quoted as saying by CNN. “The head of the negotiation team decided to murder the victim if the negotiations failed. The investigation concluded that the incident resulted in murder.”
Reaction was swift from Ankara, as Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sharply dismissed the official Saudi statement as “unsatisfactory” and repeated a call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the suspects to be prosecuted under Turkish laws.
“They say [Khashoggi] resisted going back to their country and was killed,” Mr. Cavusoglu told reporters. “However, this murder was premeditated as we had announced before. The dismembering of the body is not an instant decision. They brought the necessary people and tools to kill him and dismember the body in advance.”