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U.S. Won't Punish Saudi Prince for Khashoggi Killing

U.S. government officials believe that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for the journalist's death, according to a declassified memo.
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The U.S. will not directly punish the Saudi Crown Prince for his role in the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018.

Instead, President Joe Biden announced the "Khashoggi Ban," which gives his administration the power to place visa restrictions on foreign agents who are believed to be targeting dissidents.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is not mentioned in the State Department release assessing "accountability for the murder" of Khashoggi.

Biden is placing visa restrictions on 76 Saudis believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.

Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post who had been critical of bin Salman.

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Officials inside the Biden administration developed a consensus that Saudi Arabia is too valuable to its counterterrorism efforts to directly punish the Crown Prince, the New York Times reported.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) determined that Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in a Feb. 11 memo that was declassified Friday. 

The ODNI, whose director is the head of U.S. intelligence and serves as the principal advisor to the President, determined that bin Salman was responsible for the killing due to his influence in the country since 2017 and the fact that members of his protective detail were directly implicated in Khashoggi's death.  

President Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Thursday ahead of Friday's release. 

The travel ban includes Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief and seven members of the prince's elite personal detail known as the Rapid Intervention Force.