Germany has imposed European travel bans on 18 Saudi nationals believed to be connected to the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday.
Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels the ban was for the 26-nation Schengen zone and was issued in close coordination with France, which is part of the Schengen area, and the UK, which is not.
“As before, there are more questions than answers in this case, with the crime itself and who is behind it,” Maas said. The 18 Saudis were “allegedly connected to this crime”, Maas added, but he gave no further information.
In Berlin his office said it could not release the names due to German privacy protections.
Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who had been critical of the Saudi royal family, disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. Riyadh had offered contradictory explanations for his disappearance, before saying Khashoggi was killed after “negotiations” to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
In an address to an advisory body on Monday – his first public comment since Khashoggi’s murder – King Salman made no direct mention of the crisis, though he lauded the country’s judiciary and public prosecutors for carrying out their duty in the service of justice.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Salman’s son, the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing, which has put the Trump administration – close allies of the Saudis – in a difficult situation.
On Saturday, Trump said his administration would “be having a very full report [on Khashoggi’s death] over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday”. He said the report would include “who did it”. It was unclear whether the report would be made public.
In an interview with Fox News broadcast on Sunday, Trump noted that Prince Mohammed had repeatedly denied being involved in the killing. “Will anybody really know?” Trump asked. “At the same time, we do have an ally, and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a Republican member of the Senate intelligence committee, said that so far, there was no “smoking gun” linking the crown prince to the killing. Blunt, who has received a confidential intelligence briefing on the matter, told ABC it was “hard to imagine” that the crown prince did not know about the killing, but he said: “I don’t know that we absolutely know that yet.”
He said that Congress would await the Trump administration’s report in the next two days and that the US would need to be clear about the ramifications of sanctions, given Saudi Arabia’s strategic role in the Middle East.