Khashoggi killing: US issues travel bans against 16 Saudis - The Guardian
Move comes as state department tries to fend off criticism over reaction to killing of Saudi journalist, as The Guardian reported. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has issued travel bans against 16 Saudi Arabians, including a former aide to the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as he tries to fend off bipartisan criticism of the state department’s reaction to the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The state department designations make the 16 individuals and their immediate family members ineligible for entry into the US. A list released on Monday includes Saud al-Qahtani, a former aide to Mohammed, and Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who was part of the crown prince’s entourage on trips abroad. The names had already been announced publicly, but Monday’s designation tells those affected that their family members are also at risk of being subject to a travel ban. Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, sparking a global furore. He had written critically of Mohammed in columns for the Washington Post before he was killed. After denying any knowledge of Khashoggi’s death for weeks, Saudi authorities eventually settled on the explanation that he was killed in an operation masterminded by former advisers to Mohammed, denying that the crown prince himself was involved. Mohammed was conspicuous by his absence from the state department’s list. The Trump administration’s support for Saudi Arabia has been a point of tension with Congress since the killing of Khashoggi, who was based in the US. Lawmakers from both parties have criticised Donald Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia strongly enough for the killing. Earlier this month, Congress gave final approval on a resolution to end American military assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, in a sweeping rebuke to the US president’s foreign policy. Last week, it was reported that Saudi Arabia is within months of completing its first nuclear reactor, after it emerged that the US department of energy had granted seven permits for the transfer of sensitive nuclear information by US businesses to the Saudi government. Tempers flared last week in a confrontation between Pompeo and the Democrat-run House foreign affairs committee, when legislators demanded to know why the administration appeared to be shielding a Saudi regime responsible for wholesale human rights abuses, mass civilian deaths in Yemen and the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, told Pompeo: “If you cannot trust a regime with a bone saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons.” The Guardian
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