Exclusive: List could be used if UK decides to invoke ‘Magnitsky amendment’, which allows Britain to impose sanctions on foreign officials accused of human rights violations
UK officials have begun drawing up a list of Saudi security and government officials who could potentially come under sanctions pending the outcome of investigations into the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a source close to both Riyadh and London told The Independent.
The list being drawn up by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could be used in case the UK decides to invoke the “Magnitsky amendment,” passed this year, which allows Britain to impose sanctions on foreign officials accused of human rights violations, or to apply restrictions on Saudi trade and travel in coordination with the European Union.
Asked to confirm or deny the drawing up of the list, the Foreign Office said it “had nothing to add” to the Khashoggi matter other than comments the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, made on Thursday.
“Across the world, people who long thought themselves as Saudi’s friends are saying this is a very, very serious matter,” said Mr Hunt. “If these allegations are true there would be serious consequences.”
The source, a former government advisor, told The Independent they were briefed by a UK intelligence official and others. “Initially this was a position-paper scenario,” the source said. “Now it is definitely being looked at as a real possibility.”