Khasshoggi murder: World failed to hold Saudi Arabia to account, says fiancée


Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has said the world has failed to hold Saudi Arabia and its leaders to account over the crime and as a result the kingdom is “encouraged to do whatever it wants”.

“Because these people were not punished for what they have done, and because the world has chosen to just move on, they can still do what they want,” she said.

Cengiz, a Turkish scholar and activist, said the lack of meaningful global sanctions against Saudi Arabia more than a year after Khashoggi’s brutal killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, had sent a message that the kingdom “can do what it wants, and then get away with it”.

Cengiz spoke to the Guardian in Washington, where she is to attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address as a guest of the Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly, who has called for a halt in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the possible closure of Saudi diplomatic facilities in the US.

In the wide-ranging interview, the 37-year-old spoke of her life since October  02, 2018, when Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, who had entered the Saudi consulate to retrieve documents he needed for their marriage, failed to emerge, leaving her waiting outside.

An investigation into the murder by a UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, Agnès Callamard, later established that Khashoggi had been killed by a Saudi murder squad in what she described as a premeditated, state-sanctioned extrajudicial killing.

US intelligence agencies have separately determined with a medium to high degree of certainty that the killing was ordered by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Subsequent investigations and a report in the New York Times have alleged that “MBS” – as the crown prince is known – discussed the idea of using a “bullet” against Khashoggi as early as 2017.

The Saudi government has said that the murder was a “rogue” act and had not been ordered by Prince Mohammed. The crown prince told 60 Minutes in an interview that he took “full responsibility [for the murder], especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government”.

Since the murder, Cengiz has described her shock and overwhelming grief, and has described how she felt “detached from life for a long time”.

Even as she describes the feeling of being “terrified” for her safety, her words are lit by a fierce demand for justice, and anger about what she describes as the world’s failure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of the man she loved.

“They were encouraged to pursue their agenda even further,” she said. “If anything happens to me or to anyone now, how would they feel? The world would be responsible, double responsibility.”

In December of last year, prosecutors in Saudi Arabia announced that five men were sentenced to death, and another three would face time in prison, for their roles in Khashoggi’s murder.

The secret trial was roundly criticised by human rights activists as a sham. The case “exonerated” three senior men of wrongdoing, including Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to the crown prince who was sanctioned by the US for his alleged role in the planning and execution of the murder. (Source: The Guardian)