US lawmaker unveils bill to sanction Saudi prince for Khashoggi's death

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Mar 03, 2021, 05.41 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence had released a declassified report prepared by US spy agencies that blamed MBS for planning the 2018 operation that killed Khashoggi, a claim rejected by Riyadh.

US lawmaker Ilhan Omar has introduced a bill seeking US sanctions against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The bill was introduced in the wake of a US intelligence report that implicated the prince, known as MBS, which had alleged that he had approved the operation that led to the death of the dissident journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. 

The declassified report was released last Friday by Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen and resident of the US.

"This is a test of our humanity," Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said in a statement on the bill. 

However, the Democratic US President Joe Biden and the State Department are not keen to sanction the Saudi leadership. State Department spokesman Ned Price had said that Washington is working to "recalibrate," and not "rupture", bilateral ties.

Saudi Arabia also said that relations with the US will not be hurt by the Biden administration’s release of the intelligence report, UK daily the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. 

Prince Khalid bin Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to London, told the British paper that the release of the report was “an internal issue for the United States”, adding that the kingdom was focused “on maintaining our relationship” with the US. 

“I don’t see it as a setback at the moment. Look at what the administration has said publicly, they have said Saudi Arabia is a trusted ally, they are focused on defending and protecting Saudi Arabia. I don’t see the Americans turning away from us, or us turning away from America," FT quoted the Saudi envoy as saying.

Saudi had rejected the claims made in the US report, which did not unearth any new evidence directly linking Prince Mohammed to Khashoggi's killing. 

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, the kingdom's permanent representative to the United Nations, had said it “does not rise to anywhere close to proving the accusation beyond reasonable doubt”.

The 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",” he tweeted on Monday.

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