16 people barred from entering US over Khashoggi murder

The US State Department has barred 16 people from entering the country over their roles in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.

The public designations mean that the individuals and their families cannot enter the US under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2019, a statement issued by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.

The section “provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the US”, the statement read.

“The law requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members,” it said.

The list includes Saud al-Qahtani, one of the closest advisers to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, and Maher Mutreb, an aide to al-Qahtani who was a member of Salman’s security entourage on foreign trips.

Last November, the US treasury department imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials over the killing, including those individuals on the State Department list released Monday.

The sanctions froze US property and interests in property of those on the list and were implemented under an act that targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.

On October 2, 2018, Saudi regime critic Khashoggi entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee, but he never walked out.

After his disappearance, Saudi Arabia said he had left the embassy, but over the course of weeks and under international pressure, the Kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had died on the presence but gave conflicting accounts of what had happened.

Eleven people have been charged over the killing.

Turkish officials, who said they are in possession of audio evidence, said the murder was planned, with 15 Saudi nationals flying into the city beforehand.

Khashoggi’s remains have not been recovered.

Much of the case remains shrouded in secrecy, particularly the role of the Saudi Crown Prince.