Canada sanc­tions Saudis linked to slay­ing jour­nal­ist

The Prince George Citizen - - News - Kristy KIRKUP

BUENOS AIRES, Ar­gentina — Canada will sanc­tion 17 Saudi Ara­bian na­tion­als linked to the Oc­to­ber killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land said Thurs­day – a move an­nounced on the eve of the G20 sum­mit to be at­tended by the king­dom’s crown prince.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment looked closely at the in­volve­ment of each per­son it sanc­tioned, Free­land said, and con­cluded they were ei­ther di­rectly in­volved or com­plicit in Khashoggi’s Oc­to­ber mur­der at the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. The dis­si­dent writer, who lived in ex­ile in the United States, went to the con­sulate in Is­tan­bul to get pa­pers for his im­pend­ing mar­riage and didn’t come out.

The sanc­tions freeze the tar­gets’ Cana­dian as­sets, she said, and make them in­ad­mis­si­ble to Canada.

Ear­lier this month, the United States im­posed its own sanc­tions on Saudi of­fi­cials for the same rea­son.

“The mur­der of Ja­mal Khashoggi is ab­hor­rent and rep­re­sents an un­con­scionable at­tack on free­dom of ex­pres­sion and free­dom of the press,” Free­land said.

Canada walked a fine line as it un­veiled its sanc­tions on Thurs­day, not mak­ing a di­rect link be­tween Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man and the writer’s mur­der in Free­land’s pub­lic re­marks or in doc­u­ments as­so­ci­ated with the an­nounce­ment.

Free­land de­fended that po­si­tion, say­ing Canada wants a cred­i­ble, trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion to iden­tify all in­volved in an act “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,” she said. “These are not steps that we take lightly, they are not ac­cu­sa­tions that we can make lightly.”

Canada and other coun­tries face the dif­fi­culty of how to han­dle bin Sal­man, known as MBS, at the G20 sum­mit set to be­gin Fri­day.

The trip is the high­est-pro­file over­seas jun­ket for the crown prince since Khashoggi’s mur­der and it is ex­pected to be an op­por­tu­nity for other lead­ers to press him on what hap­pened and why.

Free­land would not say whether Cana­di­ans will speak with Saudis dur­ing the meet­ing of the world’s top eco­nomic lead­ers in Buenos Aires.

As part of an ex­am­i­na­tion of Khashoggi’s death, the head of Canada’s spy agency was dis­patched to Turkey ear­lier in No­vem­ber to gather in­for­ma­tion and lis­ten to a record­ing Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have of Khashoggi’s killing.

Cana­dian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice di­rec­tor David Vigneault briefed Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau as well as other top of­fi­cials upon his re­turn.

Khashoggi’s mur­der – which sparked in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of Riyadh – has also re­newed pub­lic out­rage in Canada over Ot­tawa’s con­tro­ver­sial $15-bil­lion deal to sell light ar­moured ve­hi­cles to the king­dom.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment has faced calls to can­cel the ar­moured-ve­hi­cles con­tract but the prime min­is­ter has said the penalty for do­ing so would be “in the bil­lions of dol­lars.”

The fed­eral NDP said Thurs­day it plans to press the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment to “have the courage” to move be­yond sanc­tions to the im­me­di­ate ces­sa­tion of all arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia.

It has been over a month since the prime min­is­ter an­nounced the gov­ern­ment is re­view­ing cur­rent ex­port per­mits to the king­dom, said the New Democrats’ for­eignaf­fairs critic He­lene Laverdiere.

“This be­lated and timid re­sponse from the gov­ern­ment does not ad­dress the full scope of chal­lenges in Canada’s re­la­tions with Saudi Ara­bia,” she said.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Canada also wel­comed the sanc­tions – and also said that ban­ning fur­ther ship­ments of ar­moured ve­hi­cles should be part of Canada’s re­sponse.

In Buenos Aires, Free­land re­peated that Canada is re­view­ing arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia in view of Khashoggi’s mur­der, in­cred­i­ble ex­pla­na­tions of his death of­fered by the king­dom so far (from deny­ing he was dead to say­ing it was the fault of rogue Saudi agents), and Saudi par­tic­i­pa­tion in the civil war in neigh­bour­ing Ye­men.

“Dur­ing this pe­riod of re­view, no new arms ex­port per­mits are be­ing is­sued,” she said.

For his part, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has de­fended his coun­try’s ties to Saudi Ara­bia fol­low­ing Khashoggi’s mur­der.

The pres­i­dent has faced ac­cu­sa­tions of ig­nor­ing U.S. in­tel­li­gence that con­cluded, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. of­fi­cial, that it was likely the crown prince him­self or­dered the killing.


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