US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken State Department Photo by Freddie Everett

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday that the United States will ban entry of foreigners who threaten dissidents and will immediately restrict 76 Saudis in honor of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"We have made absolutely clear that extraterritorial threats and assaults by Saudi Arabia against activists, dissidents and journalists must end. They will not be tolerated by the United States," Blinken said in a statement quoted by AFP.

Under the new "Khashoggi ban," the United States will restrict any individuals who have engaged in "serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities" that includes harassment of journalists or their families, Blinken added.

In a first implementation, the United States will ban the entry of 76 Saudis who have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas including in the Khashoggi case.

The move was announced shortly after President Joe Biden declassified a report that blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over Khashoggi's 2018 killing in Istanbul.

The report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, based its findings on the Crown Prince’s “absolute control” of Saudi Arabia’s security and intelligence agencies, “making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”

Despite the report, however, senior administration officials told The New York Times that Biden has decided that the price of directly penalizing the Crown Prince is too high.

Officials said a consensus developed inside the White House that the price of sanctioning bin Salman, in Saudi cooperation on counterterrorism and in confronting Iran, was simply too high.

The CIA-led assessment, which had been classified until Friday, comes as US President Joe Biden aims to reshape the US relationship with Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, before the release of the report, Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

A readout from the US made no direct reference to the Khashoggi report or to the Saudi Crown Prince, but noted that Biden emphasized importance of human rights and rule of law.

The White House had made clear this week that Biden does not view 35-year-old bin Salman as his counterpart and will instead conduct relations through his father, King Salman.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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