- The US has pledged “appropriate actions” against the people it is now connecting to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the US has “identified at least some of the individuals responsible, including those in the intelligence services, the Royal Court, the foreign ministry, and other Saudi ministries.”
- Pompeo said the US is already revoking visas and mulling sanctions.
- Trump on Tuesday described Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as one of the worst cover-ups in history. The president said he will leave the decision to punish the Kingdom with Congress.
The US pledged that it is taking “appropriate actions” against those responsible for journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
Khashoggi, a green-card holder and resident of Virginia, was killed during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month. Riyadh has admitted that Khashoggi was murdered, but claimed it was the result of an altercation gone wrong as part of a “rogue operation” unknown to the Saudi leadership.
Many, including US President Donald Trump, have expressed skepticism about the Kingdom’s changing narrative on the matter, and have called for those responsible to be held accountable.
On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that the US is already preparing action against several individuals it has linked to the killing.
“The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult with Congress, and work with other nations, and work to hold accountable those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The administration is also taking appropriate actions now, given the information currently available to the United States.”
“We have identified at least some of the individuals responsible, including those in the intelligence services, the Royal Court, the foreign ministry, and other Saudi ministries who we suspect to have been involved in Mr. Khashoggi’s death,” he said.
These actions range from revoking visas for individuals and the possibility of sanctions against the Kingdom.
Twenty-one Saudis will have their US visas revoked or will be made ineligible for future visas, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.
Pompeo said. “these penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States.”
“Still, we’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence.”
Pompeo said the US will “continue to maintain a strong partnership” with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“Neither the President nor I am happy with this situation,” he added.
Trump described Khashoggi’s murder as one of the worst cover-ups in history. But conceded he would leave any decision to punish the Kingdom up to Congress.
“Somebody really messed up,” Trump said on Tuesday. “Whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble.”
For Trump’s part, he has stopped short of promising action against Saudi Arabia or its leadership, which has tried to distance itself from Khashoggi’s murder.
The US president has made clear that his mind is also on a pending arms deal with the Saudis, which he said he is unwilling to jeopardize by rebuking the Kingdom too strongly.