People hold signs during a protest at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Washington. File picture: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

New York - Canada announced on Thursday targeted sanctions against 17 Saudi Arabian nationals whom it says were involved in the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

The Canadian government believes the individuals were responsible for or complicit in the killing of Khashoggi in Istanbul on October 2.

The sanctions effectively freeze their assets in Canada and block their entry to the country, said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a statement.

Khashoggi's murder is "abhorrent" and "represents an unconscionable attack on the freedom of expression of all individuals," she added.

The explanations offered by Saudi Arabia so far "lack consistency and credibility," and Canada will continue to call for a "transparent and rigorous" account of the circumstances surrounding the murder, according to the statement.