21:28 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (File)

    US Senate Demands Trump Explore Saudi Sanctions Over Khashoggi Murder

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    In a letter to US President Donald Trump Tuesday, top US Senators renewed their demands for his administration to open a Global Magnitsky investigation into Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's relationship to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    A bipartisan group of 22 senators first sent a letter requesting the investigation on October 12, ten days after the journalist disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Global Magnitsky Act is an extension of sanctions applied by the US government to Russian officials it believed were connected to the death of Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian jail in 2012. The 2016 extension enables it to apply such sanctions to other individuals worldwide the US government believes are connected to human rights violations.

    The US Treasury did sanction 17 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi's murder under the Magnitsky Act on November 15, Sputnik reported, but the Saudi Crown Prince was not among those sanctioned.

    "We expect to receive your determination within 120 days," senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) wrote in their letter.​

    The US government has delivered conflicting accounts of Khashoggi's murder. Last Friday, the CIA concluded the Washington Post journalist had been slain at the explicit orders of the Crown Prince, but the State Department rebutted that position, which Trump reiterated on Monday in a statement.

    "It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't! We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi," the president wrote.

    Trump further indicated that he took Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at their word when they vigorously denied "any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi."

    In turn, the Post retorted Tuesday that by surrendering "to this state-ordered murder," Trump was "placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests."

    "President Trump's response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships," the newspaper continued.

    Tags:
    senators, sanctions, Magnitsky act, global, Bob Corker, Bob Menendez, Mohammed bin Salman
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