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

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Senators Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday demanding a probe of Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

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.

In making that determination, the senators hope Trump “will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.”

Trump had already signaled he would look into the matter, telling reporters on Wednesday that he would meet with Khashoggi’s fiancee.

“His wife [sic] wrote us a letter. And addressed it to my wife and myself. And we’re in contact with her now, and we want to bring her to the White House. It’s a very sad situation. It’s a very bad situation. And we want do get to the bottom of it,” the US president said.

“We cannot let this happen, to reporters, to anybody,” Trump said. Asked if he thought Khashoggi was dead, he answered, “I hope he’s not.”

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and frequent critic of the Saudi government, was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday. Turkey has accused Riyadh of murdering the journalist inside the consulate, even saying that a special team of assassins cut him up into pieces so his body could be removed in a van.

Saudi authorities have denied any foul play, calling the allegations “baseless.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told reporters last week that to the best of his understanding, Khashoggi visited the consulate and left within an hour. The Saudi foreign ministry was working to “see exactly what happened at that time,” he said.

The original Magnitsky Act of 2012 was designed to target Russia with sanctions over alleged human rights abuses, and was expanded in 2016 to place the rest of the world under US authority as well. Saudi Arabia, however, has been a major US ally in the Middle East since WWII, including serving as the launching pad for the 1991 Gulf War and, most recently, as the linchpin of regime change efforts directed against Iran and Syria.

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Wednesday’s letter was signed by a total of 22 senators, including Marco Rubio (R-Florida.), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Todd Young (R-Indiana), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. It’s the “feel good” senator move of the year. Reunited and it feels so good . . .

    They’ll bond together over this, as if they give a rat’s ass, and the femme fatale poor almost bride will be flown into DC and the senators will climb on this bandwagon. They have more concern over this, then they did for the Brent Kavenagh slam down our throats.

    Turkish Delights for all!

  2. I believe the word for it is hypocrisy. Raving and ranting about a missing journalist is fine but ignoring the plight of the people of Yemen and the genocidal war by Fraudi Arabia that is attempting to but failing miserably is an insult to the world.

    America is suffering from truth decay.

    • Wasn’t there a female journalist that was disappeared recently?

      Haven’t heard a peep out of the Senators about that, now have we?

  3. I had read that Washington Post was CIA sponsored, guess this proves it.

    That’s a lot of human rights interest in one man…..how about Gaza?

    • Yes and now owned by our favorite internet discounter, Jeff Bezos, the Ollie Fretter of the internet.
      “I’ll give you five pounds of worthless shite if I can’t beat you best deal.”

  4. This is good but how about the inhumane treatment of Palestinians by Israel or the inhumane treatment of civilians and women and children in Afghanistan and numerous other similar situations of human rights violations all over this planet? The whores in Congress, many dual citizens of Israel, look the other way on many of these instances of gross improper treatment of human beings. All members of Congress should learn what the word hypocrisy means.

  5. This is one hell of a surprise to me. I would have lost a bet on our Congressmen getting this aggressive at this stage. The irony of it is most all of these people are fully onboard the Syrian war and our use of proxy terrorism which has killed a mountain of people.

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