US to revoke visas and consider sanctions against those responsible for Khashoggi killing

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the U.S. is "taking appropriate actions" against Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Those actions include revoking visas and entering visa lookouts, Pompeo said, as well as working with the Treasury Department to consider slapping Magnitsky sanctions on those involved in the dissident journalist's slaying.
  • Pompeo's remarks at the press briefing offered a stark shift in language from his comments after a boomerang trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey last week.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a press conference at the US Department of State in Washington, DC on October 23, 2018. 
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a press conference at the US Department of State in Washington, DC on October 23, 2018. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the U.S. is "taking appropriate actions" against Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Those actions include revoking visas and entering visa lookouts, Pompeo said, as well as working with the Treasury Department to consider slapping Magnitsky sanctions on those involved in the dissident journalist's slaying.

"These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. "We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable."

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump earlier in October, triggering an investigation through the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act into what was Khashoggi's disappearance at the time.

"We are making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, with violence," Pompeo continued. But he added that "we continue to maintain a strong partnership with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Pompeo, the Trump administration's top diplomat, said that some of the individuals responsible for Khashoggi's death are in Saudi intelligence services, the Royal Court and the Foreign Ministry, among other agencies.

Twenty-one Saudi suspects in total will either have their visas revoked or will be made ineligible for U.S. visas, according to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Pompeo's remarks at the press briefing offered a stark shift in language from his comments after a boomerang trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey last week.

Pompeo said at that time that he advised the president during a post-trip briefing to give the Saudis a "few more days to complete" their investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance. The kingdom had insisted that Khashoggi left the Istanbul consulate shortly after he arrived.

Days later, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir admitted that Khashoggi had indeed been killed inside the consulate on Oct. 2, saying it was a "tremendous mistake" but denying that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered it.

Both Pompeo and Trump have taken care to note the valuable and strong alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Trump has frequently referred to a $110 billion arms deal with the oil-rich nation — a figure The Washington Post's Fact Checker labeled false.

Trump stressed the partnership between the two nations in the Oval Office minutes before Pompeo spoke Tuesday, even after saying that the "cover-up" by the Saudis "was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups."

The G-7 nations, including the U.S., condemned the slaying "in the strongest possible terms" earlier that day, saying in a statement that "Saudi Arabia must put in place measures to ensure something like this can never happen again."

Turkish officials have told news outlets that they possess audio evidence proving Khashoggi was tortured and killed. They also allege that Khashoggi's body was dismembered with a bone saw and removed from the consulate.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that evidence corroborated the claims that Khashoggi was the victim of a "vicious, violent murder," according to a translation of his remarks.