Biden administration has defended its decision not to impose restrictions on the Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman over Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination. The spokesperson of the US State Department Ned Price said that Washington was working to put America’s relations with Kingdom on the right footing.
He further added that the US is working to “recalibrate”, not “rupture” the US-Saudi relationship. While at a news conference on Monday, Price said a step to sanction the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia would have harmed American influence over Riyadh – a key regional ally. In response, the Washington Post, where the Khashoggi worked, criticized the newly-elected president’s decision not to punish the crown prince.
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Fred Ryan, a publisher from the newspaper, accused President Biden of breaking his campaign promise to make sure that the Saudi Kingdom pays for Khashoggi’s murder. Days ago, the Biden administration put a total of 76 Saudi nationals on a no-travel list and the country’s Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on individuals involved in Khashoggi’s killing.
The White House announced the sanctions soon after the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report on the killing of a Saudi journalist prepared by CIA and other US intelligence agencies, assigning the operation’s responsibility to the crown prince.
Price further added that since Biden assumed the presidential office, Riyadh had taken steps in the right direction, including the release of prominent women rights activists as well as an end to the Qatari blockade. The UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, called Biden’s decision regarding Mohammad Bin Salman is worrisome.
He further urged the newly-elected administration to act on the report’s findings and impose restrictions on the crown prince. The latest ODNI report stated that Prince Salman had approved the operation against Khashoggi. However, Riyadh categorically rejected the report and denied the prince’s involvement in the killing.
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