State Department enacts “Khashoggi Ban” visa restriction

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced a new “Khashoggi Ban,” which includes visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals believed to be involved in “threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing,” he said in statement just after a long-awaited report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was declassified. 

“The Khashoggi Ban allows the State Department to impose visa restrictions on individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work, or who engage in such activities with respect to the families or other close associates of such persons,” Blinken said in a statement. “Family members of such individuals also may be subject to visa restrictions under this policy, where appropriate.”

Blinken made it clear that these Saudi individuals will not be allowed to visit the US. The names of the list were not disclosed which is the normal policy of the State Department.

“As a matter of safety for all within our borders, perpetrators targeting perceived dissidents on behalf of any foreign government should not be permitted to reach American soil,” Blinken said.

The 76 Saudi individuals subject to visa restrictions “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing,” Blinken said.

He said that these visa restrictions, in conjunction with the report, will reinforce condemnation of Khashoggi’s murder.

“Alongside the transmission of that report, and as part of the President’s pledge, the United States Government is announcing additional measures to reinforce the world’s condemnation of that crime, and to push back against governments that reach beyond their borders to threaten and attack journalists and perceived dissidents for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” Blinken said. 

He said that the actions taken fit in the context of the Biden administration’s grander thinking on Saudi Arabia. 

“While the United States remains invested in its relationship with Saudi Arabia, President Biden has made clear that partnership must reflect U.S. values. To that end, we have made absolutely clear that extraterritorial threats and assaults by Saudi Arabia against activists, dissidents, and journalists must end. They will not be tolerated by the United States,” Blinken said.

He also said that the State Department will now “report on any such extraterritorial activities by any government in our annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The United States will continue to shine a light on any government that targets individuals, either domestically or extraterritorially, merely for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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