Riyadh hits back at Trump over threat of 'sanctions'

Saudi Arabia threatens 'strong response' to sanctions over Khashoggi affair, after Trump warnings
2 min read
14 October, 2018
Saudi Arabia has threatened a strong response to possible sanctions over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after close ally Trump warned of "severe punishment".
Saudi Arabia insists Khashoggi exited the consulate, without providing evidence [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has threatened a strong response to possible sanctions over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after close ally Trump warned of "severe punishment".

Riyadh made the threat in a statement carried by state news agency SPA on Sunday, citing an official source.

"The kingdom affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action," the statement said.

"The kingdom also affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure,"

The statement also condemned "false accusations aimed at undermining" the country, without directly acknowledging Khashoggi's disappearance.

The statement comes a day after US President Trump threatened Saudi Arabia with "severe punishment" if it is responsible for harming Khashoggi.

Twenty-two senators have written to Trump invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which requires the president to open an investigation and determine whether sanctions should be imposed.

The act is used in cases of suspected "extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression," the senators said.

Saudi Arabia has come under fire from the international community over the mysterious disappearance, causing the Saudi stock market plunged by seven percent at one point on Sunday.

Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is the kingdom's de facto ruler, vanished on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish police say Khashoggi, who had been in self-imposed exile in the United States, was murdered inside the consulate by a 15-member Saudi team flown into the country, according to Turkish government sources.

Saudi Arabia insists Khashoggi exited the consulate after a brief visit but has failed to explain the journalist's fate after entering its consulate building.