Published: Sat, October 27, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

State Department Announces Penalties In Response To Jamal Khashoggi Death

State Department Announces Penalties In Response To Jamal Khashoggi Death

The United States said on Tuesday it was revoking visas of Saudi officials involved in the "brutal murder" of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in its first major action against the longtime ally as global outrage escalated.

For more than two weeks after Khashoggi disappeared while visiting the consulate to obtain documents related to his planned marriage, Saudi officials insisted he had left the mission alive and that they had no information about his whereabouts.

President Tayyip Erdogan has called Khashoggi's murder a "savage killing" and demanded Riyadh punish those responsible, no matter how highly placed. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino says Washington welcomes the decision.

The Saudi journalist who had permanent residence in the U.S. was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey at the beginning of October.

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Vice-President Mike Pence said Tuesday that the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi "will not go without an American response" and that the Central Intelligence Agency director was in Turkey to review evidence in the case.

"We're getting facts in from multiple places and once those facts come in, the secretary of state will work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe, what we think is credible and what we think is not credible", Kushner told CNN.

Turkey is conducting its own investigation into the killing but it remains unclear where the body of Khashoggi is.

Reports emerged about a Saudi-hit squad killing and dismembering the journalist - allegedly on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Khashoggi was often critical of the Saudi government in his reporting, which led Saudi leadership to restrict the movements of his family, the editor said.

CIA Director Gina Haspel is traveling to Ankara and is expected to review the evidence gathered by Turkish investigators - possibly including audio recordings that anonymous investigators have spoken about to journalists but that have not been shared to date, according to Turkish officials.

Pence said Erdogan's account - the most substantive remarks on the case by the Turkish leader - "flies in the face" of the Saudis' earlier assertions.

Turkish officials suspect Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, 59, inside the consulate and cut up his body.

On the day Khashoggi arrived for his appointment and was later killed, the hard disk in the consulate's camera system was removed, Erdogan said. "Covering up such a brutal act would wound the conscience of all mankind".

He said Saudi Arabia had arrested 15 Saudi suspects who flew to Turkey shortly before the attack, as well as three local consulate staff, and called for the 18 to stand trial in Istanbul.

After departing Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi began writing for The Washington Post and continued to criticize the Saudi government. The Anadolu agency initially reported the Saudis had denied permission for it to be searched, only for broadcaster NTV to say later that permission had been given.

But shock waves over the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a US resident, continued across the Middle East, posing a major challenge to the Trump administration, which has cultivated Saudi Arabia and its ambitious crown prince as a critical ally in the region. But he said he was confident of the full cooperation of his father Saudi King Salman in the probe and vowed full retribution for all the guilty.

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