The US Treasury Department sanctions were the first response by the Trump administration to Khashoggi’s death in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October, Reuters reported.
Among those sanctioned were Saud al-Qahtani, who has been removed from his position as a top aide to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the Saudi Consul-General Mohammad al-Otaibi, and members of a 15-person team Turkey has identified as being involved.
The measure was unusual for Washington, which rarely imposes sanctions on Saudi nationals. The sanctions do not target the Riyadh government, an important US ally.
It also allows the administration to stop short of action that might affect lucrative US arms deals with Saudi Arabia that President Donald Trump has vowed to preserve.
The sanctions limit access to the US financial system and freeze individuals’ assets. They will be implemented under an act which targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption.
“These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.
The US government did not impose sanctions on Saudi officials over the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were from the kingdom.
A US government commission found no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded Al-Qaeda, which carried out the attacks on New York and Washington. The panel, however, left open whether individual Saudi officials might have.
Khashoggi, a royal insider turned critic of Saudi policy, was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was a US resident and columnist for The Washington Post and his killing has provoked a political crisis in Saudi Arabia as well as friction with Western allies.
Some members of the US Congress said that even with the sanctions, the administration has not been tough enough, specifically in regard to the Saudi crown prince.
Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, then offered contradictory explanations including that he was killed in a “rogue” operation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order for the operation came from the highest level of Saudi leadership but probably not King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on his 33-year-old heir.
Turkey wants the 15-man team that it says killed Khashoggi to be tried there. Trump has suggested that ultimate responsibility lies with the prince.