Germany Bans Jamal Khashoggi Murder Suspects From Travel in European Schengen Area

Germany has imposed entry bans on 18 Saudi citizens suspected of involvement in the plot to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.

The travel restrictions effectively block the 18 from entering the European Union's passport-free travel area—the 26-nation Schengen Area—that covers almost all of western and central Europe excluding the U.K., Reuters reported.

Heiko Maas, a spokesperson for Germany's foreign ministry, said the bans were applied to the 15 men believed to have formed the assassination team for Khashoggi's killing, which took place minutes after he entered the consulate on October 2.

The other three relate to Saudi citizens suspected of organizing the operation. Maas did not name the three others, and declined to comment when asked if they included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—the de facto ruler of the kingdom, who is believed to have ordered the killing.

"In recent days, we have coordinated closely with our French and British friends and decided, as Germany, to put an entry ban beside their names in the Schengen system database," Maas told a news conference Monday, the Associated Press reported.

"As before, there are more questions than answers in this case, with the crime itself and who is behind it," he added. He noted that all 18 are "allegedly connected to this crime" but offered no further information. German officials said the country's privacy laws prohibited them from releasing the targets' names.

An American resident, Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post and an outspoken critic of the country's ruling family. He went missing after entering the consulate on October 2 to collect paperwork that would allow him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting for him outside.

Protesters rally against the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, on October 26. Germany has imposed entry bans on 18 Saudi citizens suspected of involvement in the plot to murder Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Saudi officials, including the crown prince, initially claimed that Khashoggi left the building within an hour of his arrival. But after weeks of speculation, international pressure and intelligence leaks from the Turkish government, the Saudis admitted Khashoggi had been killed within the diplomatic facility in a "premeditated" attack.

Though Turkish investigators have searched the consulate, Khashoggi's remains have not been recovered. There are numerous theories as to what happened to his body after it was dismembered by the assassination team inside the consulate.

Saudi Arabia has consistently denied the crown prince's direct involvement.

Prosecutors in the kingdom are now seeking the death penalty for five people suspected of involvement in the murder, though most observers believe the suspects are serving as scapegoats for powerful figures within the country's authoritarian government.

President Donald Trump has been criticized for his perceived lack of action over the murder. He has consistently refused to blame Crown Prince Mohammed, with whom he has built a good working relationship since the 33-year-old was appointed heir to the throne following a June 2017 restructuring that some have referred to as a palace coup.

In an interview with Fox News released Sunday, Trump said he has not listened to a recording of the moment Khashoggi was killed, one that has been shared with all major western intelligence services. The president said he "was fully briefed on it, there's no reason for me to hear it." He added, "I don't want to hear the tape."