Senators demand Magnitsky Act probe, sanctions on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi disappearance

A screenshot of the report published by Turkish newspaper Sabah showing the faces of the 15 men taken at passport control

A screenshot of the report published by Turkish newspaper Sabah showing the faces of the 15 men taken at passport control

The U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he does not know anything about Khashoggi's disappearance and that he had not yet spoken with Saudi officials about the situation, a week after the journalist disappeared.

The law, enacted in 2016, requires the White House to launch an investigation into human rights violations anywhere on the planet if asked by the Senate Foreign Relations committee, with a 120-day deadline to submit a report and decide on imposing sanctions on "foreign person or persons" held responsible for "extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression", according to the letter.

Saudi Arabia insists that he left less than an hour after arriving at the consulate.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that the U.S. would continue to inquire about the fate of the journalist.

The Saudi-born writer disappeared after walking into the consulate on October 2, and Turkish officials believe he was killed and his body removed from the building. It was not clear, the report said, whether the Saudis meant to arrest and interrogate Mr. Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the USA officials warned Mr. Khashoggi that he was a target. "It's a awful thing".

Trump, who took his first overseas trip as US President to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said Tuesday he had not yet talked to the Saudis about Khashoggi, "but I will be at some point", without elaborating. "We can not let this happen, to reporters, to anyone".

Saudi Arabia's crown prince and de facto ruler ordered an operation targeting journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for more than a week, The Washington Post reported Wednesday citing United States intelligence intercepts.

Turkish sources have said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. and top Democrat Bob Menendez of N.J. issued a letter to President Trump, triggering a probe Wednesday under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Pence did not indicate that either Turkey, which has launched an intensive investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, or Saudi Arabia has sought US assistance.

Writing in the American Conservative on October 9, right-wing journalist Daniel Larison was equally critical-saying, "The messages coming from the Trump Administration are scarcely better than boilerplate statements, and it shows that the administration has no interest in criticizing the Saudi government or in holding them accountable for their crime". He also added, the free world deserves answers.

"Jamal has many friends in the Kingdom, including myself, and despite our differences, and his choice to go into his so called 'self-exile, ' we still maintained regular contact when he was in Washington", Khalid bin Salman added.

Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.

"If it turns out that suspicions of Saudi involvement in the murder of this journalist are true", Kaine said, "it could be a real sea-change in the relationship between the USA and Saudi Arabia that could affect many things, including US support for what Saudi Arabia is doing in Yemen. So I think we have to get to the bottom of it".

Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post that she was "confident in the abilities of Turkish government officials".

"At this time, I implore President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance", she said.

Broadcast by Turkey's TRT World channel and apparently obtained from security cameras, the footage shows vehicles driving up to the consulate, including black vans thought to be central to inquiries.

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