Washington: As many as 16 Saudi nationals were barred entry by the United States on Monday for their alleged involvement in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, announced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The administration of President Donald Trump had faced pressure from Congress over its response to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Keeping this in mind, Mike Pompeo made the announcement.
Notably, some US lawmakers have publicly cast their suspicions over the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and claimed that he was directly responsible for the murder, concluded the CIA. Earlier, the State Department previously revoked the visas of nearly two dozen Saudi officials and froze the assets of 17 others.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed and reportedly dismembered in October at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. The Saudi Crown Prince has been accused of planning Khashoggi’s killing, but the kingdom has denied the allegations.
Initially, the Saudi kingdom said it had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate but amid mounting international pressure acknowledged that he was killed at the Saudi consulate in a rogue operation. Eventually, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) concluded that the Crown Prince had ordered Khashoggi’s killing, but US President Donald Trump refused to accept verdict about, saying, “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”
Several Republicans had earlier joined Democrats in accusing the Trump administration of misleading the country and obscuring the truth of Bin Salman’s alleged involvement in the murder.
Turkey has said the journalist was strangulated to death by a team of 15 Saudis, and Ankara has repeatedly asked Riyadh to identify the local who allegedly helped them dispose of the body, which has not been found. Thus Riyadh arrested a number of senior Saudi officials who were allegedly involved in the murder.
(With agency inputs)