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Journo Khashoggi murder: Ilhan Omar unveils bill to sanction Prince Salman

International desk || shiningbd

Published: 10:43, 3 March 2021   Update: 10:47, 3 March 2021
Journo Khashoggi murder: Ilhan Omar unveils bill to sanction Prince Salman

US Representative Ilhan Omar introduced a bill on Tuesday to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US Representative Ilhan Omar introduced a bill on Tuesday to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, putting the progressive lawmaker at odds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released last Friday a declassified report prepared by US spy agencies that blamed MBS for planning the 2018 operation that killed Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, and resident of the US, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

“This is a test of our humanity,” Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said in a statement. “If the United States of America truly supports freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights, there is no reason not to sanction Mohammed bin Salman—a man our own intelligence found to have approved the murder of U.S. resident and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

The call for sanctions is at odds with Biden and the State Department, which declined to punish MBS and is working to “recalibrate” and not “rupture” the US-Saudi relationship, State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference in Washington, DC, on Monday.

State Department spokesman Ned Price faces questioning from reporters during a news briefing about the Biden administration’s decision not to sanction Mohammed bin Salman [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

“We are working to put the US-Saudi relationship on the right footing,” Price continued, defending the Biden administration’s decision not to sanction MBS.

Pelosi said in a February 26 statement the ODNI report “confirms what the world has long known: that Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered at the direction of top Saudi officials, including [MBS]”. But Pelosi echoed calls to “recalibrate” the relationship and said the House would introduce legislation to honor Khashoggi’s memory.

Saudi Arabia has rejected the US intelligence report’s findings, and on Monday, the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations also said it “does not rise to anywhere close to proving the accusation beyond a reasonable doubt”.

“The [Crown] Prince courageously accepted moral responsibility, presented the accused to the justice system, and pledged to reform the intelligence organizations. Case closed! Let us all move forward to tackle the serious business of world issues!!” Abdallah Al-Mouallimi tweeted.

The Biden administration has said it will prohibit travel to the US for some of the 18 people identified in the ODNI report, but will not give their names. It is unlikely for MBS to be among those blocked, as the crown prince is the de facto Saudi head of state.

ShiningBD/MB