WASHINGTON (IANS) — The United States’ government on Thursday sanctioned 17 Saudi Arabian officials for their alleged role in the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul early last month.
Among those sanctioned by the US Treasury Department is Saud al-Qahtani, one of the chief advisers to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Efe reported.
“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi (on October 2). These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying in a press release.
“The government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists,” he added.
The US Treasury Department accused al-Qahtani of helping to plan and execute the operation that led to the killing of Khashoggi.
The other people hit with sanctions are Saudi Arabia’s consul general, Mohammed al-Otaibi; al-Qahtani’s subordinate, Maher Mutreb, who allegedly coordinated and executed the operation; and 14 others who purportedly participated in the crime.
“As a result of these designations, any property or interests in property of the individuals designated today within or transiting US jurisdiction is blocked,” Thursday’s press release said.
“Additionally, US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with blocked persons, including entities 50 per cent or more owned by designated persons.”
The sanctions were handed down after Saudi Arabia’s attorney general, Saud al-Mojeb, said Thursday that he would seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged in connection with the journalist’s death.
In a press conference in Riyadh, the top prosecutor said the crown prince had not had any prior knowledge of the operation.
Al-Mojeb said the investigation had shown that Khashoggi, a government critic and Washington Post columnist, died after being restrained and injected with a tranquilizer following a fight inside the consulate.
His body was then dismembered and handed over to a Turkish collaborator, the attorney general said.
Al-Mojeb said the then-deputy head of intelligence, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, had masterminded the operation that was intended to get Khashoggi back to the kingdom.
He added that the order for the killing was given by the head of the delegation of agents that had traveled to Turkey, although he did not name that individual.
Khashoggi, long a part of the Saudi establishment, became estranged from Riyadh as a result of his criticism of the crown prince and had been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.