The United States announced Tuesday that it was revoking visas of nearly two dozen Saudi officials involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the toughest action to date against its longtime ally, as President Donald Trump called the killing the “worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups.”
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he’s expecting a full report on the killing soon. But he said, “They had a very bad original concept” and it was “carried out poorly.”
He called the events after Khashoggi’s death “the worst cover-up ever.”
Saudi Arabia has claimed Khashoggi, a writer for The Washington Post who wrote critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, died accidentally in a brawl at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
But Turkish officials say a 15-men team tortured, killed and dismembered the writer and say Saudi officials had planned the killing for days.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States has “identified at least some of the individuals” behind the death.
“These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States. We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable,” Pompeo told reporters.
“We are making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence,” he said.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later said that the measure will affect 21 Saudi suspects who will either have their visas revoked or be ineligible for future visas.
Pompeo said that the Saudis came from “the intelligence services, the royal court, the foreign ministry and other Saudi ministries.”
The top diplomat said the United States was also looking into whether to take action under a law named after Sergei Magnitsky, the anti-corruption accountant who died in Russian custody, that would impose financial sanctions on individuals behind Khashoggi’s death.
US lawmakers have been pressing the Trump administration to take tough action, with several mentioning the Magnitsky Act.
Pompeo reiterated that the United States still considered Saudi Arabia an ally, saying he and Trump were “not happy” to move against the kingdom.