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US State Department blocks 16 people from entering country over Khashoggi killing

The US State Department has barred 16 people from entering the country over their alleged roles in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The travel ban will also apply to their immediate families.

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, was killed on 2 October last year at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Saudi Arabia has charged 11 suspects over the killing and is seeking the death penalty for five of them, but has not released any names. A UN human rights expert last month pushed for the trials to be held in public.

The roles of the suspects within the Saudi regime and details of any charges filed against them have also not been disclosed.

In the wake of Khashoggi’s murder, as global pressure mounted over his disappearance, the Saudi regime changed its story about what happened at the consulate several times.

Khashoggi’s body has still not been recovered.

The latest State Department global human rights report recognised that “Government agents” had killed Khashoggi but did not connect Saydi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder, despite a Central Intelligence Agency assessment claiming he ordered the killing.

Saudi Arabia has strongly denied this. Officials have said Khashoggi’s death was the result of a “rogue operation”.

Asked if the US Government report was “pulling any punches” at a press briefing, Ambassador Michael Kozak said the State Department wanted the report to be “fact-driven rather than opinion driven”.

US President Donald Trump has faced criticism over his attitude to the Khashoggi killing, with the Washington Post hitting out at him in November 2018 for his failure to take action following the murder.

In the UK, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry pushed the Government to reveal any findings on who was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi.

Picture: Middle East Monitor/Handout via Reuters

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