Canada welcomes U.S. sanctions on Saudis, weighs similar action

FILE PHOTO - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland attends a joint news conference with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday welcomed U.S. Treasury sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the killing last month of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and said Canada was weighing similar action.

“Canada welcomes the U.S. action,” Freeland told reporters after touring a factory in Port Colborne, Ontario, adding that Canada will be “actively considering” similar sanctions in coming days.

Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and the U.S. Treasury on Thursday announced sanctions targeting Saudi nationals, not the Riyadh government. The sanctions limit access to the U.S. financial system and freeze the individuals’ assets.

Freeland said Canada is considering the same kind of targeted sanctions implemented under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised there would be “consequences” for the murder, and he has said Ottawa is reviewing export permits to Saudi Arabia.

Opposition critics and human rights groups say that if Trudeau is serious about standing up for human rights, he should cancel a $13 billion contract for armored vehicles built in Canada by U.S.-based General Dynamics GD.N.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by David Gregorio and James Dalgleish