Skip to content
October 02, 2023

Rep. Adam Schiff Introduces the Jamal Khashoggi Protection of Activists and Press Freedom Act of 2023

Washington, D.C. — This week, Representative Adam Schiff, joined by Representatives Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), introduced the Jamal Khashoggi Protection of Activists and Press Freedom Act of 2023 to protect activists and journalists, codify the Khashoggi Ban, and introduce the Khashoggi Amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Five years ago, the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi intelligence officers, acting on explicit orders of the Saudi Government, underscored the extent to which those in power will go to stifle the freedom of expression, silence their critics, and eliminate the threat they believe independent journalists pose to their rule. However, the Saudi officials involved in this heinous crime have yet to face accountability.

Schiff’s legislation would protect activists and journalists by codifying the Khashoggi Ban, a visa restriction policy announced by Secretary Blinken in February 2021, which bans from travel to the United States individuals acting for a foreign government who are found to have engaged in serious, extraterritorial, counter-dissident activities. The act also introduces the Khashoggi Amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, which allows for lawsuits seeking damages against a foreign state in the case of the personal injury or death of a U.S. person resulting from an act of transnational repression.

“This legislation, named in honor of the late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, would strengthen the United States’ commitment to hold to account those who would target journalists for violence and persecution,” said Rep. Schiff, Co-Founder of the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus. “The United States must send a powerful message to those complicit in Khashoggi's murder, and to all foreign entities that systematically harass, suppress, and threaten dissidents and journalists: such anti-democratic attacks will be met with real, meaningful, and punishing consequences."

“The murder of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government was not only a gross human rights violation, but a brutal crime," Rep. McCollum said. “It is imperative to send a strong signal that Congress will not condone those countries that target dissidents of any kind, including journalists seeking to report the truth and activists speaking truth to power. Five years after this horrific event, my colleagues and I are introducing this legislation to demand accountability and justice for those who would attack democratic voices, including a free and open press.” 

“Five years ago, my constituent Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered at the direction of the Saudi Crown Prince,” said Connolly. “Jamal was a journalist and a dissident. His only crime was wanting the best for his home country and its people. In his honor, we recommit ourselves to defending the rights of dissidents, activists, and journalists around the world.”

"The introduction of the Khashoggi Act isn't just a piece of legislation; it's a testament to unwavering congressional commitment to uphold the principles of human rights and freedom of the press," said Raed Jarrar, advocacy director at DAWN. "Five years ago, our founder Jamal Khashoggi paid the ultimate price for standing up to autocratic forces, and his legacy continues to guide our resolve. The United States has a moral imperative to hold perpetrators accountable and protect journalists and dissidents around the globe from similar acts of transnational aggression. As we endorse this Act today, we amplify that very message: the fight for justice and democracy will continue, undeterred and undiminished."

Schiff’s legislation has been endorsed by DAWN, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), PEN America, Reporters Without Borders, Reprieve US, Just Foreign Policy, The Freedom Initiative, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), Tunisian United Network, Libyan American Alliance, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, The Campaign for Hong Kong, Americans for Kashmir, RISE UP, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, Freedom for Eurasia, BPSOS.

This legislation is cosponsored by Representatives James McGovern (D-Mass.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington D.C.). 

Click here to see the full text of the bill.