USA sanctions 17 Saudis for role in Khashoggi murder

The Trump administration has sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the first economic penalties from the US over the brutal murder that has spawned a diplomatic crisis.

Shalaan said Prince Salman knew nothing of the operation, in which Khashoggi's body was dismembered, removed from the building and handed over to an unidentified "local co-operator".

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor on Thursday exonerated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, accusing two senior officials of giving the orders.

The sanctions limit access to the US financial system and freeze the individuals' assets.

"The way Saudi Arabia is run today, Mohammed bin Salman is an autocrat", Baer stressed.

The 17 people include the 15-man hit squad that traveled to Turkey to carry out the operation, the Saudi consul general in Istanbul - where the killing took place inside the Saudi consulate - and a former adviser to the crown prince.

Khashoggi, a critic of MBS's supposed reform programme, was killed after he entered the consulate on October 2 to obtain a document certifying his divorce.

Some details provided on Thursday again contradicted previous versions, none of which mentioned a drug-induced death and one of which called the killing premeditated based on information provided by Turkey.

Rumours have swirled about the cause of death of Khashoggi, with Saudi Arabia initially claiming he died in a fight.

The killing of Khashoggi, a palace insider who turned critic, has provoked a global outcry and tarnished the reputation of the 33-year-old young prince, whose efforts to cast himself as a bolder reformer and trusted USA ally have often chafed against his policies overseas.

In contrast to Thursday's announcement, the US government never imposed sanctions on Saudi officials over the September 11, 2001, attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were from the kingdom.

Following the brutal killing of Saudi Arabian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, a death penalty has been sought by the Saudi government against five suspects.

The dissident writer was given a lethal injection after a struggle with agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, the spokesman told reporters.

"The secretary emphasised that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

He said, the investigation has identified those that ordered and carried out the murder, totaling (5) individuals that have confessed to the murder.

His grandfather, Mohammed Khashoggi, was the personal doctor of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul Aziz al-Saud.

First, Riyadh said that Khashoggi had left its consulate in Istanbul alive.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that recordings related to the killing of Mr Khashoggi had been passed on to the UK, US, Saudi Arabia and other powers. The Saudis do not have rogue operations.

"It's pretty hard for me to believe that 15 people just on their own fly to Turkey and chop somebody up in a consulate and never tell anybody in Saudi Arabia about it", said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, when asked about Bolton's comment, as reported by The Hill.

  • Rogelio Becker