The US is revoking the visas of some Saudi officials who have been implicated in the slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday, Anadolu reports.
The officials work for a variety of Saudi offices, including the royal court, the intelligence services, the foreign ministry and other Saudi ministries, but Pompeo did not specify which individuals would be affected possibly because visa records are confidential.
“The United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence,” Pompeo said.
The State Department later confirmed that a total of 21 suspects would be affected by visa revocations.
The move marks Washington’s first punitive measure against Riyadh following Khashoggi’s death.
Addressing reporters, the top diplomat said the state and treasury departments are working to review “the applicability” of a US law intended to punish human rights abusers for the individuals suspected of involvement in Khashoggi’s death.
Four key senators triggered an investigation on Oct. 10 into Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Act.
In a letter to US President Donald Trump, the minority and majority leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the leaders of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the State Department called on Trump to determine whether imposing sanctions “with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi” is warranted.
Trump has 120 days from the date of the letter to issue his determination.
“These penalties will not be the last word on the matter from the United States,” Pompeo said. “We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Tuesday laid out his country’s initial findings in its investigation, saying Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated”.
Erdogan said all information and evidence that has been uncovered showed Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal murder.
Saudi teams explored Istanbul’s Belgrad Forest and the northwestern province of Yalova before murdering Khashoggi, Erdogan said.
Pompeo said Ankara has been “very cooperative with us, and the Turks have told us the Saudis have cooperated with them as well”.