Saudi Arabia has rejected the US report on the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “wrong” and “unacceptable”. The Foreign Ministry in Riyadh announced on Twitter that it contained “incorrect information and conclusions” on the Saudi leadership.
The “terrible crime” is a blatant violation of Saudi law, it said. Those who committed it were convicted. It is regrettable that the US report was published. The kingdom rejects measures that violate its sovereignty and the independence of its judiciary.
Khashoggi was murdered by a special command from Riyadh in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the operation to capture or kill the journalist, according to US intelligence agencies. That comes from a report that the office of the new US intelligence coordinator Avril Haines published on Friday.
A Saudi court sentenced five defendants to 20 years’ imprisonment, annulling the death penalty against the men. Khashoggi’s family had previously stated that they would forgive the perpetrators.
Entry restrictions against 76 citizens of Saudi Arabia
Immediately after this news, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that he would impose entry restrictions on 76 citizens of Saudi Arabia. Blinken said they were believed to have “been involved in the threat to dissidents abroad” like Khashoggi. The US State Department did not provide any information in the announcement about who the entry restrictions apply.
The US Treasury Department also put the former Saudi Deputy Head of Intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and the RIF Rapid Reaction Force on the sanctions list. Al-Asiri was the leader of the operation against Khashoggi in Istanbul, in which several RIF members were involved. The US government announced no punitive measures against the Crown Prince himself.
Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz posted a picture of him on Twitter with the hashtag #justiceforjamal.
The British Foreign Office said, according to Reuters news agency, it had always been clear to Britain that the Khashoggi murder was a terrible crime. The British are demanding a thorough and transparent investigation from Saudi Arabia in order to bring those responsible to justice. The Foreign Minister raised the issue during his visit to Riyadh last year and will continue to do so with the Saudi government, the ministry said.
The Open Society Foundations, which had sued the publication of the report, are calling for global sanctions against the Saudi crown prince after the intelligence report. On the occasion of the release, Amrit Singh, advocate for the initiative said: “The US and other governments must take immediate action to hold the Crown Prince and the Saudi government accountable for their blatant disregard for the rule of law. They have to impose extensive travel and financial sanctions on the Crown Prince. In addition, all arms sales to Saudi Arabia must be suspended. “
Initiative demands a total ban on all arms exports from Germany
With regard to Germany, Singh explains: “Germany has temporarily imposed some restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but that is not enough.” It is crucial that Germany impose a total ban on all arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi authorities stop themselves participate in human rights abuses. Germany must also impose financial sanctions and an entry ban on bin Salman. In addition, the German government should ask its partners in Europe to impose similar sanctions. “This will not work without Germany’s support,” said the lawyer.
FDP and Greens are calling for action against the Saudi crown prince. The chairwoman of the Bundestag Human Rights Committee, Gyde Jensen (FDP), has spoken out in favor of EU sanctions. “If the assessment of the US secret services is correct, that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has approved the assassination of Khashoggi, the EU must also react consistently: immediate personal sanctions should be imposed on him and all other parties involved,” said Jensen. “It is enormously important that the masterminds behind the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi are exposed. They must not feel safe and hope that the international community will forget. “
The foreign policy spokesman for the Green Group, Omid Nouripour, called on the German government to seek sanctions against Crown Prince Bin Salman as part of the new European human rights mechanism. “She has to go to the International Criminal Court on this matter. Germany must make it clear to the House of Saud that normalized relations with it are not possible as long as a murderer who dismisses his critics is the country’s crown prince, ”said Nouripour.