Europe News

France imposes sanctions on 18 Saudi citizens over Khashoggi killing

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Thursday it had imposed sanctions, including travel bans, on 18 Saudi citizens linked to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said more could follow depending on results of an investigation.

The foreign ministry did not name the individuals but said in a statement that the move was in coordination with European partners, notably Germany. Berlin on Monday also banned 18 Saudis and moved to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The bans bind all members of the European Union’s passport-free Schengen zone, it said.

“The murder of Mr Khashoggi is a crime of extreme gravity, which moreover goes against freedom of the press and the most fundamental rights,” the ministry statement said.

France expected a transparent, detailed and exhaustive response from Saudi authorities, it said.

“These are interim measures that may be reviewed or extended depending on the progress of ongoing investigations,” it said.

French reaction has been relatively guarded given it is keen to retain its influence with Riyadh and protect commercial relations spanning energy, finance and weapons sales.

Saudi’s deputy public prosecutor said on Nov. 15 that Riyadh was seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged with Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.

“It (France) recalls its opposition, in all places and in all circumstances, to the death penalty,” the ministry said.

Reporting by John Irish, Editing by Leigh Thomas