In the case of the killed saudi journalist jamal khashoggi, the U.S. Government has imposed sanctions on 17 former saudi government employees.
They were "involved in the heinous killing of jamal khashoggi," U.S. Treasury secretary steven mnuchin said in washington on thursday. The united states is targeting those saudis who have also been portrayed as guilty or linked to the crime by the government in riyadh. Saudi attorney general had called for death penalty for five suspects just hours earlier.
The most prominent person affected by the sanctions is saud bin abdullah al-kahtani. He was in charge of media affairs at the royal court and was fired the night riyadh acknowledged khashoggi’s death. Al-kahtani is considered a close confidant of crown prince mohammed bin salman. The finance ministry said the operation to kill khashoggi was coordinated and carried out by al-kahtani’s subordinate maher mutreb.
A team of 14 other saudis had also been involved. "These individuals who attacked and brutally killed a journalist who lived and worked in the united states must bear the consequences for their actions," mnuchin said. Sanctions were also imposed on the saudi consul general in istanbul, mohammed al-otaibi. He left turkey a little over a month ago and has not made any public appearances since then.
Khashoggi, a critic of the government, had been killed on 2. October entered saudi consulate in istanbul to pick up documents for his wedding. He never resurfaced. Only under immense international pressure did saudi arabia admit to the killing of exiled khashoggi and launch an investigation.
Riyadh subsequently arrested 18 suspects, including the 15 members of the special team that traveled to istanbul. Al-kahtani was described by a saudi official in the "new york times" as an accomplice.
Property of those concerned in the USA is frozen. U.S. State bureaucrats were also prohibited from doing business with them. Mnuchin urged the saudi government to "take appropriate steps to end attacks on political dissidents or journalists". U.S. President donald trump had been under increasing pressure to impose sanctions in the khashoggi case.
In addition to the five death sentences demanded, the saudi attorney general, saud al-mujib, also announced that a total of eleven saudi nationals – who have not been named – have been indicted. The former deputy chief of the intelligence service, ahmed al-asiri, is believed to be the wire-puller. Al-aziri, however, was not on the U.S. Sanctions list.
Auben minister adel al-dzhubair reiterated that crown prince mohammed bin salman had no knowledge of the mission: "his royal highness, the crown prince, had nothing to do with this matter.". Due to international outcry, the kingdom wants to keep the heir to the throne out of the line of fire, observers say.
According to saudi accounts on thursday, ex-intelligence officer al-asiri single-handedly gave the order to the 15-man team to convince khashoggi at the consulate to travel with them to saudi arabia. According to the report, the situation escalated and the "washington post" columnist was administered an injection, from which he died. His body was destroyed, taken out of the consulate and handed over to a local employee. It was unclear where the remains were located.
International experts as well as western diplomats doubt that such a mission in autocratic saudi arabia would have been possible without the knowledge of the powerful crown prince mohammed. In recent years, the only 33-year-old had continued to expand his enormous influence in the country and had appointed close confidants at all points of control in the country – including the alleged wire-puller al-asiri.
Several of the 15 members of the special team were also found to be directly linked to mohammed bin salman. The "new york times" had also reported on tuesday that american intelligence officials believed that the perpetrators indirectly notified the crown prince about the execution after khashoggi was killed.
Turkish auben minister mevlut cavusoglu called the statement of the saudi attorney general "unsatisfactory". He expressed doubts that khashoggi was killed after refusing to travel with him to saudi arabia. "It was planned in advance how this man was to be killed and destroyed."
A number of experts rated the saudi findings as unsatisfactory. "Riyadh is trying to throw some officials under the bus to put this fall behind it," wrote analyst H.A. Hellyer of the think tank atlantic council. He speculated that ankara, washington, and even europe would soon be ready to cooperate with mohammed bin salman again.
The trump administration’s U.S. Sanctions seem to follow riyadh’s narrative. The behavior of the u.S. President, one of riyadh’s closest allies, is seen as crucial to the development of the case. Trump had held off on sanctions until now, citing good business, arms sales and stability in the middle east.