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Senators Urge Trump To Order Inquiry Over Missing Saudi Journalist

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A bipartisan group of top U.S. Senators have written a letter urging President Donald Trump to order an investigation into the whereabouts of missing dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and impose sanctions against anyone found responsible for his disappearance.

The letter by 22 lawmakers comes amid allegations that Riyadh ordered the killing of the known critic of the Saudi monarchy.

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who had been living in the United States, has not been seen since he entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday afternoon. Turkish authorities suspect that Khashoggi was abducted and murdered by the Saudis, but Riyadh denies the claims.

Trump, who had been criticized over his casual approach to Khashoggi's mysterious disappearance, said Wednesday he had taken up the case with the Saudi authorities and vowed to "get to the bottom of it."

In the letter to Trump, the Senators triggered the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Under the 2016 Act, the president, upon receipt of a letter from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, must decide within 120 days whether to impose sanctions on any foreign person he determines is responsible for extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of human rights against Khashoggi.

The lawmakers said the disappearance of Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.

The letter was initiated by Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

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