Canada sanctions 17 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi murder
The government of Canada has announced it is sanctioning 17 Saudi nationals linked to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a common critic of the Saudi royal family, was killed in October after going to the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
In a statement, officials from Global Affairs called the killing “extrajudicial” and said they are calling for “a transparent and rigorous accounting of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi’s murder.”
“The explanations offered to date by Saudi Arabia lack consistency and credibility,” the statement continues.
WATCH: Canada sanctions 17 Saudis linked to Khashoggi’s murder
The sanctions will effectively freeze the assets of the individuals, and will ban them from entering Canada.
But Bessma Momani, a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and a professor at the University of Waterloo, says it’s important to remember the sanctions are on the individuals and not the country itself.
“I think there is strong symbolism in the sanctions,” Momani said. “One was the ambassador to the United States, some are very close right hand men to (Saudi Crown Prince) Mohammed bin Salman but obviously MBS is not on the list.”
“It’s limited, but it’s better than nothing.”
World leaders – including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman – are gathering in Buenos Aires for the G20 Summit.
WATCH: Khashoggi murder case ‘not closed’: Freeland on Saudi sanctions, Crown prince
It’s not yet known if Trudeau or Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who’s also in Buenos Aires, will meet with the Saudis during the G20 – which is an annual meeting to discuss global economic security.
The crown prince was met with protests over his alleged involvement in the killing; bin Salman has denied knowledge of it.
Freeland stopped short of linking the crown prince to crime. She said the government wants a credible, transparent investigation to identify all those who were involved in something “so serious and so odious” as Khashoggi’s death.
“It’s very important to act and to speak only on the basis of real certainty. These are not steps that we take lightly, they are not accusations that we can make lightly. But, again, I do want to emphasize this case is not closed as far as Canada is concerned,” she said.
With the attention on the Khashoggi case, many are expecting the meeting to focus on human rights issues as well.
Along with sanctions, activists have called for Canada to review its arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
The controversial agreement with Saudi Arabia was negotiated under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, but signoff and decisions about its future now fall on Trudeau’s Liberal government.
The same 17 Saudis were also sanctioned by the U.S. government earlier this month. American officials said they were the men involved in the 15-man hit squad who kidnapped, tortured and dismembered Khashoggi.
The head of Canada’s spy agency was dispatched to Turkey to gather information and listen to a recording Turkish authorities have of Khashoggi’s killing. CSIS director David Vigneault briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as other top officials upon his return.
*with files from the Canadian Press
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