US sanctions 17 individuals tied to Khashoggi murder

The U.S. on Thursday sanctioned 17 people tied to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, including the Saudi Consul General in Istanbul Mohammad al-Otaibi.

Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi diplomatic facility shortly after he entered the consulate Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia had offered shifting explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance before suggesting he was killed during a botched rendition operation by rogue agents.

In addition to al-Otaibi, the U.S. imposed economic penalties on Saud al-Qahtani, who the Treasury Department called a senior Saudi official involved in planning the operation, his subordinate, Maher Mutreb, and 14 other individuals who Washington says were part of an “operations team” tasked with killing Khashoggi.

All of the 17 men, Treasury said, were involved in the “abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”

“These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was not among the blacklisted individuals, despite widespread speculation that the de facto ruler of the Kingdom ordered the hit on Khashoggi.

But indicating that the actions taken Thursday are not Washington’s final steps on the case, Mnuchin said the U.S. is continuing “to diligently work to ascertain all of the facts and will hold accountable each of those we find responsible in order to achieve justice for Khashoggi’s fiancée, children, and the family he leaves behind.”

The sentiment was echoed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said the actions are “an important step in responding to Khashoggi’s killing.”

“The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” he said in a statement.

U.S. persons are generally prohibited from conducting business with the designated individuals and any property they have under U.S. jurisdiction has been frozen.

Saudi Arabia earlier Thursday announced it had charged 11 out of 21 suspects in relation to the Khashoggi’s murder.

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