Germany bars 18 Saudis from most of EU over Khashoggi murder
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Germany bars 18 Saudis from most of EU over Khashoggi murder

Berlin also rescinds approval for previously approved arms sales to the kingdom; FM says government waiting for Riyadh to ‘clarify the situation’

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, May 30, 2018. (AP/Michael Sohn)
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, May 30, 2018. (AP/Michael Sohn)

Germany will bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday.

Maas said the move was “coordinated very closely with” states France and Britain and the broader EU as they seek more information in Khashoggi’s death last month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Berlin has “decided that Germany should impose an entry ban on 18 Saudi citizens, who are presumed to be in connection with this deed, in the Schengen information system,” Maas told reporters.

“We are in close coordination on this issue within the European Union,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

“Over the weekend, we stated that we expected further steps to be taken to clarify the situation. We will follow on this closely and reserve further steps for ourselves.”

The Schengen Area is composed of 22 EU nations and four non-EU countries. EU member Britain is not part of the passport-free Schengen Area, but shares intelligence through Shengen Information System (SIS) for law enforcement purposes.

A woman holds a poster during the funeral prayers in absentia for Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed last month in the Saudi Arabia consulate, in Istanbul, November 16, 2018. (AP/Emrah Gurel)

Germany called last month for EU countries to follow its lead and suspend arms sales for the moment to Saudi Arabia, prompting a dismissive response from French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is the kingdom’s second biggest customer after India.

On Monday, the German government also announced that it was halting previously approved arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid the Khashoggi fallout.

The spokesperson for Germany’s Economy Ministry, Philipp Jornitz, said Berlin was “working with those who have valid authorizations with the result that there are currently no (weapons) exports from Germany to Saudi Arabia.”

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

According to Turkish officials, an audio recording proves that Khashoggi was deliberately killed and dismembered soon after entering the consulate.

This image, taken from CCTV video obtained by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and made available on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, on October 2, 2018. (CCTV/Hurriyet via AP)

Saudi Arabia has offered shifting accounts of what happened, initially saying Khashoggi left the consulate after receiving his documents and later that he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight.

In the latest version, the Saudi prosecutor said a 15-member team went to Istanbul to bring Khashoggi back to the kingdom, but killed him instead in a rogue operation.

The prosecutor exonerated the Crown Prince, after indicting 11 Saudis and sacking five officials, including two members of Prince Mohammed’s inner circle.

The United States, traditionally Riyadh’s closest ally, has sanctioned 17 Saudis for the crime.

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