Twenty-two US senators on Wednesday forced a US investigation of whether human rights sanctions should be imposed over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist last seen as he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, Reuters reports.
In a letter, the senators said they had triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act requiring the president to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for a gross human rights violation.
“Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia,” they said.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Bob Corker and Bob Menendez, and their counterparts on the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department, Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy, triggered the Magnitsky action.
But the 18 others also signed the letter to send Trump a strong bipartisan message of support for a serious US response to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Senate aides said.
The Global Magnitsky Act requires a report within 120 days of the letter with a decision on the imposition of sanctions on anyone deemed responsible for a serious rights violation such as torture, prolonged detention without trial or extrajudicial killing of someone exercising freedom of expression.
“The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of international recognized human rights,” the letter said.
The 2012 Magnitsky Act imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials linked to the 2009 death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old Russian whistleblower. It became the Global Magnitsky Act in 2016 when it was expanded to cover rights abusers in any country.
Washington knew... and apparently did nothing, reports Bloomberg based on a bombshell Washington Post report: U.S. intelligence services intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi, whose disappearance in Turkey last week threatens to damage the warm ties between the kingdom and Washington.
Yet another tragic death of a high profile journalist is now raising questions. A Bulgarian journalist and TV personality who was in the midst of a deep investigation into alleged corruption involving EU funds has been found murdered in the Bulgarian town of Ruse, authorities said on Sunday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the burden lies with Saudi Arabia to prove that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is still alive and had left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as the kingdom has claimed.
Turkish government sources have said that a former trusted aide of the Saudi royal family, who was shunned by Riyadh after criticizing Saudi policies, was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. Jamal Khashoggi, 59, is an American-educated former adviser to Saudi royals. He worked for years as an advisor to Prince Turki al-Faisal, one of Saudi Arabia’s most recognizable public figures who represented the Kingdom as ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom
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