Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz offered pointed criticisms of the Trump administration’s response to the slain Saudi journalist’s brutal 2018 murder, pleading with the United States and other western governments to hold Saudi Arabia accountable.
“It has been more than six months since this horrible event, but there has been no truth, justice or accountability for those responsible for this terrible incident, to this stain on human rights and press freedom,” Cengiz said at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing Thursday focusing on the heightened attacks on press freedom worldwide.
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“Every day, I have nightmares thinking of Jamal’s suffering,” she added. “Is it not natural for me then to demand that those responsible for his death are held accountable through the proper channels?”
Speaking through a translator, she referenced statements from Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi promising to get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s murder, adding: “But seven or eight months later, we see that nothing has been done. And that is why I am here.”
Trump has taken criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike over his response to Khashoggi’s killing. The president has openly doubted the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed the killing, and he has rebuffed demands by lawmakers to impose human-rights sanctions on Riyadh and to cut off U.S. weapons sales to the kingdom.
Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and legal U.S. resident, was murdered and his body was dismembered by a team of Saudi assassins last October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Cengiz was waiting outside the consulate while Khashoggi was inside to seek marriage documents.
Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist whose writings were intensely critical of the Saudi government.
“He was disturbed by the uncontrolled exercise of power in Saudi Arabia, its violations of human rights, arbitrary arrests and detentions of scholars and writers, and unprecedented violations of people’s basic freedoms,” Cengiz said, adding that Khashoggi was “forced into silence.”
Earlier this year, Republicans fumed at the president for ignoring a law requiring the Trump administration to report to Congress on who was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, and impose appropriate sanctions. Lawmakers from both parties said it was clear to them, based on classified intelligence briefings, that the crown prince was directly involved.
The crown prince has denied involvement in the operation, claiming it was conducted without his knowledge. Moreover, the Trump administration sanctioned the 17 Saudis believed to have been responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.
Khashoggi’s body still has not been recovered.
“To this day the Saudi government has not returned Jamal’s remains, though they have admitted to his violent death on their diplomatic soil,” Cengiz said. “Without his body it has not been possible to give Jamal the dignified burial and funeral that he deserves.”