On July 6, Monday, the United Kingdom announced new sanctions inspired by the US Magnistky act on 19 Saudi Arabian nationals accused of being involved in the gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. The sanctions will impose a UK visa ban as well as freeze their financial and other assets inside the country. The 19 are among a total of 49 individuals and groups placed under the UK sanctions list for their alleged role in human rights abuses and violations worldwide, many of them from countries like Russia and North Korea.
According to a UK foreign office statement released later, these new sanctions, which have been styled on the US Magnitsky act, will target people around the world involved in what it calls the most egregious human rights violations. The statement went on to say that the 49 individuals and groups named in the sanctions list are just the first batch of designations, and that further sanctions on others could be expected in the coming months.
Among the prominent Saudis sanctioned on Monday are Saud Al-Qahtani, former political advisor to Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Ahmed Al-Asiri, deputy head of the Saudi intelligence services, and Salah Muhammed Al Tubaigy, a forensic doctor in Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry. All three are believed to have direct and close involvement in the planning and execution of Khashoggi’s murder. Al-Asiri is suspected of having commissioned the 15-member Saudi death squad that was sent to Turkey to carry out the killing. Qahtani was reportedly part of the command structure of the death squad, and was one of the individuals responsible for guidance and supervision of the squad during the killing, while Al-Tubaigy was reportedly present inside the consulate on the day of the murder and helped destroy the evidence, and dismember and dispose of Khashoggi’s body, as well as make sure that there were no forensic traces left of the crime.
The new sanctions were announced as the UK is no longer party to the existing EU sanctions regime, currently jointly followed by all the EU countries, following Brexit. The minister reportedly previously overruled the apprehensions and objections raised by several officials in the UK foreign office, who were worried about the impact of these sanctions on the UK-Saudi Arabia bilateral relationship.