Intel: Why the USA is now sanctioning 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing


The economic sanctions by the US Treasury were declared after Riyadh's public prosecutor announced that five out of 11 suspects charged in Khashoggi's murder face a possible death sentence.

During a news conference in Riyadh, the kingdom's deputy public prosecutor, Shalaan al-Shalaan, told reporters 21 people have been taken into custody in connection with the killing, 11 have been indicted, and the office is calling for the death penalty for five of them, Fox News reported.

Prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb's conclusion - that the killing was authorised by relatively low-level officials who disobeyed orders and acted on the fly - contradicted assertions by Turkish investigators, who have said it was a meticulously planned affair, with elaborate preparations to cover up the crime that included the scouting of locations where Khashoggi's body could be disposed of in secret.

The United States announced sanctions on 17 Saudis today for their alleged involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

President Tayyip Erdogan said the recordings are "appalling" and shocked a Saudi intelligence officer who listened to them.

Officials in several countries have said it is unlikely Khashoggi could have been killed without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto leader.

"He did not have any knowledge", Shaalan said Thursday.

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Turkey has called for an worldwide investigation into the killing.

The New York Times has reported that in the newly surfaced audio recording, a member of the team is heard telling a superior to "tell your boss" that the mission had been completed-and that boss, according to the New York Times, is believed by USA intelligent officials to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, once a Saudi royal family insider, grew critical of the kingdom's rulers following their crackdown on opposition, their war on neighbouring Yemen and the severing of Saudi ties with the small Gulf state of Qatar.

"I remain concerned that the administration is enabling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its effort to protect Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from accountability", said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

The Turkish government is demanding the suspects be investigated and put on trial in Turkey.

"The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists", Mnuchin said.

The Saudi government announced last month that both Assiri and Qahtani had been fired for their involvement in the case, but did not specify what that involvement was.

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Riyadh had offered numerous contradictory explanations for his disappearance, before saying Khashoggi was killed after "negotiations" to convince him to return to the kingdom failed.

He did not disclose that individual's name, but said he was part of a 15-man team sent to Turkey comprised of three groups: negotiators, intelligence and logistics.

"The public prosecutor is still awaiting a response to these requests". But after deciding that moving Khashoggi to a safe house would not be possible, a team leader made a decision to kill the journalist, according to the prosecutor.

After first insisting Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, Saudi authorities said he was killed in an argument that degenerated into a brawl before finally accepting what Turkey had said virtually from the start - that he was killed in a premeditated hit.

"After the murder, the victim's body was dismembered by the individuals that had committed the murder and was transferred outside the consulate building", it went on.

The public prosecutor's office "requested the brotherly Turkish authorities to sign a special cooperation mechanism specific to this case in order to provide them with the results of the investigation", read a statement carried on the state SPA news agency.

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