PRESIDENT Joe Biden of the United States has enforced a visa ban on 76 Saudi nationals over their connection with the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist.
The ban follows the release of a four-page US intelligence report which accused Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, of ordering the killing of Khashoggi’s who was a major critic of Saudi and Salman’s policies.
Khashoggi was killed and allegedly dismembered on October 2, 2018, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by men said to be connected with the top levels of Kingdom’s government and the Crown Prince.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, who described the visa restriction policy as “Khashoggi Ban,” announced that the affected individuals who were acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities.
“The murder of journalist and US lawful permanent resident Jamal Khashoggi shocked the world. Starting today, we will have a new global policy bearing his name to impose visa restrictions on those who engage in extraterritorial attacks on journalists or activists.
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“As a matter of safety for all within our borders, perpetrators targeting perceived dissidents on behalf of any foreign government should not be permitted to reach American soil,” Blinken said.
He explained that the ban was part of measures by the US government to “reinforce the world’s condemnation of that crime”.
“I also have directed that the State Department fully report on any such extraterritorial activities by any government in our annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” he said.
He also added that the new policy was aimed at stopping governments that “reach beyond their borders to threaten and attack journalists and perceived dissidents for exercising their fundamental freedoms”.
According to the declassified report, released by the US Director of National Intelligence, the Saudi prince had approved the capture or killing of the late journalist, according to a New York Times report.
The report also listed 21 individuals involved directly in the killing of Khashoggi, which includes seven members of Prince Mohammed’s elite protective detail, called the Rapid Intervention Force, RIF, that provided support for the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi.
The seven guards of the prince are Saud al Qhatani, Maher Muthreb, Naif al- Arifi, Mohammed al -Zahrani, Mansour Abahussein,Badr Utaybah, Abudul Aziz Al Hawsawi.
“To that end, we have made absolutely clear that extraterritorial threats and assaults by Saudi Arabia against activists, dissidents and journalists must end. They will not be tolerated by the United States,” Blinken said.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.