Canada Sanctions 17 Saudis in Khashoggi Death Ahead of G-20

(Bloomberg) -- Canada has announced sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals, the latest nation to do so in response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in October.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the sanctions on Thursday after arriving in Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 summit, which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is also attending. The Crown prince is not among the 17 people affected.

The sanctions target people who Canada believes are "responsible for or complicit in the extra-judicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the Canadian government said in a news release detailing the measures. All individuals targeted by Canada on Thursday were also sanctioned by the U.S. earlier this month. Germany, France and the U.K. also applied penalties on Saudi citizens suspected in participating in the killing.

Canada Sanctions 17 Saudis in Khashoggi Death Ahead of G-20

In spite of today’s sanctions, Canada is still wavering on whether it would cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The issue is being reviewed, Freeland reiterated Thursday.

“We have looked very closely into their involvement in this terrible murder and it is the clear opinion of our government that they were either directly involved in or complicit in the murder," Freeland told reporters in Buenos Aires, declining to say what role she thinks Prince Mohammed played in the incident.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not scheduled to hold a formal meeting with Prince Mohammed during the G-20, and hasn’t asked for one, a Canadian government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Plans could change, and Trudeau and Prince Mohammed could speak informally during the multilateral events, the official said.

The sanctions freeze assets any of the 17 people hold in Canada, and bars them from the country. The Saudi explanations given so far “lack consistency and credibility,” Canada said in the statement. The move comes amid a months-long simmering diplomatic fight between Canada and Saudi Arabia, which predated Khashoggi’s death but has led to other sanctions.

Freeland also said she continues to speak with allies about the Khashoggi case, and Canada finds it significant that the killing took place in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization country.

Canada’s release of the statement on the eve of the G-20 summit "means that they want to send the message that normalization or going back to business as usual so quickly with Mohammed bin Salman is out of the picture,” said Cinzia Bianco, a Middle East and Gulf analyst for Gulf State Analytics in London.

“The response of Canada to the Khashoggi affair is one of those instances in which we see a consensus emerging between Canada and certain European Union countries in trying to preserve the rule-based international order," she said.

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