The United States on Tuesday said it had identified 21 Saudi officials whose visas would be either revoked or who would become ineligible for visas in the future for their alleged involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, AFP reported.
Two weeks after Khashoggi went missing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Riyadh admitted on Saturday that he was killed. Saudi Arabia has denied knowing anything about his death, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said it was a planned affair.
“These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable. We are making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of action to silence Mr Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence.”
Pompeo said the suspects behind the murder came from “intelligence services, the royal court, the foreign ministry and other Saudi ministries”. The United States is also considering financial sanctions on the suspects, he said.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump called Khashoggi’s killing “the worst cover-up ever”. “They [The Saudis] had a very bad original concept,” he told reporters. “It was carried out poorly. And the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. Very simple. Bad deal. Should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up.”
However, he said he wants to “see the facts first” as “Saudi Arabia has been a really great ally, and one of the biggest investors, maybe the biggest investor, in our country”.
In a joint statement, foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations condemned the killing and said it left “many questions unanswered”. They urged Saudi Arabia to ensure such an incident never happens again, Reuters reported.