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France imposes sanctions against 18 Saudis over Khashoggi murder

French president Macron greeting Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 November, 2018

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But French President Emmanuel Macron has not joined ally Germany in halting arms sales to the ultra-conservative kingdom.
France said on Thursday it would impose sanctions against 18 Saudi citizens over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. 

"These measures... aim to prohibit these individuals from entering national territory and the entire Schengen area" of Europe, the ministry said in a statement.

"They are conservative measures, subject to review or extension based on the findings of the investigation under way," it said.

Saudi Arabia has said that 21 people are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

International pressure has mounted on Riyadh to find those responsible for the grisly murder of Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A recent CIA analysis leaked to the US media reportedly pointed the finger at Prince Mohammed, though Saudi prosecutors have said he had no role in the killing.

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on 17 people, including close aides of Prince Mohammed, while Germany imposed similar measures on Monday.

But France's latest measures come short of other European partners like Germany and Denmark, which have halted arms sales to Riyadh over Khashoggi's killing.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron dodged questions on whether Paris would follow Germany in suspending arms sales to Riyadh.

A visibly irritated Macron told reporters that "This has nothing to do with what we're talking about. Nothing. So I won’t answer that question. I'm sorry but as long as I'll be in office this is how it will be, whether people like it or not".

Macron has sought to deflect criticism over French arms sales to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi's murder last month.

Riyadh is the second-biggest purchaser of French arms, and between 2008-2017 penned deals worth $12.6 billion for tanks, armoured vehicles and ammo. 

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