Washington: US lawmaker Ilhan Omar on Tuesday introduced a bill to sanction Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for his involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
This comes after a US report implicated MBS of approving the killing of Khashoggi.
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, Al Jazeera reported.
Test of our humanity: Omar
“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.”
US President Joe Biden and the State Department have declined to punish MBS. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington is working to “recalibrate” and not “rupture” the US-Saudi relationship.
“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.
Khashoggi, who was a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, was killed on October 2, 2018, in Turkey where he had gone to obtain paperwork certifying his divorce from his former wife Alaa Nassif in order to be able to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
His killing had brought international outrage and battered the reputation of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman.
Omar quoted Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz in her statement: “If the Crown Prince is not punished, it will forever signal that the main culprit can get away with murder.”
“Every minute Mohammed bin Salman escapes punishment is a moment where U.S. interests, human rights, and the lives of Saudi dissenters are at risk. Today, I introduced legislation to place sanctions on the Crown Prince for his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Omar tweeted.
Another bill put forward by Democratic Representative Tom Malinowski, called the Saudi Arabia Accountability for Gross Violations of Human Rights Act, aims to ensure that even MBS would be banned from travelling to the US.
Malinowski said not sanctioning MBS weakens the administration’s stance “[if] we accuse him of the crime and then do nothing to hold him accountable”.