France has imposed a travel ban on 18 Saudi citizens linked to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said more sanctions could follow depending on the results of investigations.
France’s foreign ministry did not name the individuals but in a statement released on Thursday, it said the move was in coordination with European partners, notably Germany which, on Monday, banned 18 Saudis and moved to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
“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 said in a statement.
The bans bind all members of the European Union’s passport-free Schengen zone, the statement said before adding that France expected a transparent, detailed and exhaustive response from Saudi authorities.
“These are interim measures that may be reviewed or extended depending on the progress of ongoing investigations.”
On November 15, Saudi Arabia’s deputy public prosecutor said Riyadh was seeking 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.
The brutal killing of Khashoggi has drawn global condemnation, including from many politicians and officials in the United States, a key Saudi ally.
Turkish President Recep Tayep Erdona has suggested the order to kill the journalist came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government but refused to blame Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia has denied Prince Salman ordered the killing. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last week Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered when “negotiations” to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Cavusoglu said Ankara may seek a formal United Nations inquiry if its liaising with Riyadh comes to an impasse.