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What Is the Magnitsky Act? How Does It Apply to the Missing Saudi Journalist?

by Countable | Updated on 10.12.18

What's the story?

  • 11 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday, demanding an investigation into the disappearance of journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggiand to enforce sanctions against his alleged attackers.
  • Khashoggi disappeared last week after visiting the country's consulate in Turkey. Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate; the Saudis deny this claim, but have not been able to provide any proof he safely left the building.
  • The Foreign Relations Committee letter requests an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act , which requires the president to give a report to Congress within 120 days on whether to impose the requested sanctions.

What is the Magnitsky Act?

  • The bipartisan legislation — enacted in 2012 — sanctioned Russians connected to the death of Sergei Magnitsky or responsible for killings, torture, and human rights violations against people exposing illegal activity by the Russian government. Sanctioned individuals are ineligible for entry to the U.S. under the law, which also freezes the person’s financial and property assets in the country.
  • Sergei Magnitsky was an auditor investigating tax fraud by Russian government officials who was imprisoned and denied medical treatment for chronic conditions for months before being beaten to death by officers of Russia’s interior ministry.

What has its impact been?

  • Since the first sanctions were meted out by the Treasury Department in April 2013 against 18 people connected to the deaths of Magnitsky and others, the Russian government has pushed back against the law.
  • Among the retaliatory steps the Russian government has taken since the Magnitsky Act was enacted are passing a law denying adoptions of Russian children by Americans and issuing a "Guantanamo list" of U.S. officials prohibited from entering Russia. It also has continued to lobby for the law’s repeal through people like Veselnitskaya.
  • But they don’t seem to be enjoying much success in that effort at the moment. In December 2016, the Magnitsky Act was expanded to apply to human rights abusers globally when Congress tacked it on as an amendment to the annual defense authorization, after the Senate passed such a global expansion as a standalone bill in 2017.

What do you think?

Tell your reps whether you think of the Magnitsky Act and its global expansion: Should it be enhanced further, or repealed?

—Josh Herman & Eric Revell


(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(73)
  • John
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    Protect journalists worldwide. They are letting light in through the cracks in the walls.

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  • Surender
    10/12/2018
    ···

    Freeze ALL Saudi assets immediately. Suspend ALL arms sales. Sanction MBS

    Like (19)
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  • Robert
    Voted Apathetic
    10/13/2018
    ···

    It’s time to investigate trumps relationships and business dealings with Saudi Arabia, this is serious

    Like (11)
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  • Sandra
    Voted Angry
    10/13/2018
    ···

    This whole situation is absolutely beyond belief and (once again) the situation reeks of intrigue, behind the scenes deals with Trump/Kushner to line their pockets and possible negligence BEFORE this all went down on this poor gentlemen....So what else is new in this "Administration"?

    Like (8)
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  • NoHedges
    Voted Happy
    10/13/2018
    ···

    Everything you need to understand the Magnitsky Act can be found on investigaterussia.org

    Like (4)
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  • Charles
    Voted Sad
    10/15/2018
    ···

    I have never heard of the guy until now.... This guys' journalist friends such as billionaire Bloomberg should be the people paying for this and coercing Saudi Arabia. America should not be messing with international policies because of this one guy-- who is NOT EVEN AN AMERICAN. This is not America's circus or monkey. Quit spending our tax dollars on non American issues already. Condemn the king, sure that's fine but I have no interest in paying to find out he's dead or who killed him. He probably got what he deserved by messing with the bull as America is NOT the international police force.

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  • Donna
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    These news reports, if true, are chilling. Regardless of the despicable comments coming out of the WH, I DEMAND my representatives do EVERYTHING possible to (1) find out what happened and (2) hold those responsible or complicit accountable. This is a human life, a permanent resident of this nation, a journalist, a father, a fiance. You are all gloating about the prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade, on your supposed moral objections to abortion. If you do not honor this life by upholding the Global Magnitsky Act due to pressure from either MBS, his BFF Kushner or the White House, you are complicit in this apparent crime and much bigger hypocrites than I imagined. You do not get to 'choose' which lives are/were worth living.

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  • Chickie
    10/12/2018
    ···

    #45 made it clear yesterday; he will not break off the friendly relationship he has with the Saudi Crown Prince because of the $110 billion dollar arms deal. “I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion dollars, which is an all time record. And letting China have that money, let Russia have that money”. He went on to ask ABC News WH reporter Jonathan Karl, “Khashoogi is not even a United States citizen. Is that right? It’s right” When Karl corrected #45 by saying he’s a US resident, #45 went on the say, “He’s a permanent resident. Okay. We don’t like it John. We don’t like it. And we don’t like it even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billions dollars from being spent in this country, knowing that they have four or five other alternatives, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me. Okay. But we’re looking for an answer”. In summary, it’s all about the money. Whether or not it’s one life or the lives of 3,000 children, when it comes down to it, #45 and his administration are only interested in the money, not in lives.

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  • Stickyfingers
    Voted Apathetic
    10/13/2018
    ···

    Remember Benghazi? Or James Foley? Killed by isis under the Obama administration. Where have these investigations gone? Yes, Saudi Arabia should be held accountable, if they committed murder, but these type of heinous crimes happened too often under the Obama regime . Unfortunately they were swept under the rug and never heard from again

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  • Leon
    Voted Angry
    10/12/2018
    ···

    So, I’m all for protecting a free press however this Congress has been harassed and harassed the media as fake news. So how is a state controlled media journalist rating this level of interest? Especially in a country where women’s’ and LGBT rights violation is acceptable?

    Like (3)
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  • James
    Voted Happy
    10/13/2018
    ···

    I throughly agree that if, indeed, the journalist has been definitively been murdered by Saudi Arabia, that The United States has to invoke the act. As The Saudis are allies we must be careful in what type of sanctions we use. As much as I’d like to see the Crown Prince banned from the U.S, and his property and bank accounts seized, we might want to temper our anger and go after someone else. I feel as Angry about this murder as the rest of America, and we must let the Saudis know they cannot behave in this manner. Action must be taken in Congress with a veto proof majority.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    “The Magnitsky Act” I’m in full support and agreement with this bipartisan legislation — enacted in 2012 — which sanctioned Russians connected to the death of Sergei Magnitsky or responsible for killings, torture, and human rights violations against people exposing illegal activity by the Russian government. Sanctioned individuals are ineligible for entry to the U.S. under the law, which also freezes the person’s financial and property assets in the country. Sergei Magnitsky was an auditor investigating tax fraud by Russian government officials who was imprisoned and denied medical treatment for chronic conditions for months before being beaten to death by officers of Russia’s interior ministry. The Magnitsky Act, was formally known as the “Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012”. SEE: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnitsky_Act 10*12*18 ..... SneakyPete .....

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  • Tinee
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    The Magnitsky Act allows the US Government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. Russia was so upset when this went into effect it stopped adoption of Russian children by US citizens. There are disturbing reports the journalist was tortured, killed then dismembered shortly after arriving to the consulate all over the internet. This is the only way to find out if those reports are true or not.

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  • Mark
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    The torture and execution of journalists by fascist regimes around the globe should be a red line in the sand, for which the United States and her allies will immediately act. The first amendment is not first by accident or convenience, it is first, because it is the most important. A press corp, free to report and investigate anything they should choose is vital to maintain our democracy and freedom. It is a light which fights against corruption and tyranny. It acts as a fourth check and balance upon the power of government and the political elites. With the collapse of the reasonable wing of the Republican Party, and the death of American conservatism, a propaganda wing beholden only to the GOP has risen. A propaganda wing, that in conjunction with the GOP itself and the Trump family, that now insists that all sources of news besides that which comes from the mouth of the president, the GOP, and Fox News is "fake news". This faction threatens journalists, ignores inconvenient facts, and has emboldened fascist leaders everywhere to lash out against the press with a new fervor. It is time the GOP excise the cancer of Trump within their ranks, and return to the party of Lincoln. The United States must return to fact and evidence over rhetoric.

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  • Caroline
    10/13/2018
    ···

    Unless they can prove that the journalist left the Saudi embassy in Turkey under his own will and is still alive and well, the US must freeze all Saudi assets held in the US, stop selling them arms, the US will stop purchasing crude oil from them, will remove all US military from the country, close the US embassy, tell all expats to leave, or they’re there at their own risk. Basically, what the US did to Iran. If they become another pariah in the Middle East, then maybe the crown will open up.

    Like (8)
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  • MFein10
    Voted Excited
    10/13/2018
    ···

    Protect freedom of the press around the world!

    Like (7)
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  • Cndrla
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    Protect all journalist !

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  • Fred
    10/12/2018
    ···

    I Don’t know enough about expansion but enforce it to the maximum

    Like (6)
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  • Robert j.
    Voted Excited
    10/13/2018
    ···

    Here’s a method for dealing with Saudi involvement. Postpone arms transfers until further notice.

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  • Robert j.
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    Khashoggi was a brave voice for journalism truth. How about an act representing journalists in his name?

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  • Susan
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    Given the current administration, the Magnitsky Act and its global expansion are necessary and must be expanded.

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  • David
    Voted Excited
    10/12/2018
    ···

    These people should be responsible for their actions. Our polititions should be responsible for their actions also.

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  • Sherry
    10/13/2018
    ···

    We need to get the facts with regard to this Saudi journalist. I do NOT care what oil deals Trump is trying to negotiate, we must never deal with a country that goes outside their borders to kill a dissident. We need the Saudi government to act in a more responsible and humane manner.

    Like (4)
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