The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi urged US President Joe Biden to fulfill his promise to not let Saudi journalist’s death be in vain during an emotional speech in the US capital late Friday.
Hatice Cengiz spoke at an event organized by the Freedom First campaign on the National Mall to mark the third anniversary of the journalist’s murder.
“Jamal was not just a journalist. He was not just a prominent champion for the rights of Saudi people and the broader Arab world. He was my Jamal and he was taken from me,” said Cengiz.
Khashoggi, a US resident, and columnist for The Washington Post, was brutally murdered and likely dismembered after being lured by Saudi officials to their consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. While Riyadh initially denied any role in his death, it later sought to pin blame on what it said was a botched rendition operation.
That explanation has been widely rejected.
A report released in February by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) under the Biden administration said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing.
The report added that the crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto leader, “approved an operation … to capture or kill” Khashoggi.
Cengiz recalled that Donald Trump was the US president when the Saudi journalist was murdered, saying the former leader of the free world continued to support the Saudi government and refused to hold bin Salman accountable for the grisly killing.
Today, we joined @DAWNmenaorg, @codepink, and others for a protest outside the Saudi embassy in D.C. demanding justice for #JamalKhashoggi. Jamal's legacy lives on, and we will never forget the Saudi government's horrific crime. #JusticeforJamal pic.twitter.com/jvSSQYEUT5
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) October 1, 2021
She then quoted Biden’s remarks when he was a presidential candidate: “Khashoggi and his loved ones deserve accountability. Jamal’s death will not be in vain.”
“President Biden and Vice President [Kamala] Harris! When will you step up and fulfill your promises? When will you translate your words into action?” said Cengiz.
The event hosted several speakers including Philippe Nassif, MENA Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, Eason Jordan, senior adviser at the Freedom Initiative and a veteran of CNN, NowThis and the Malala Fund, as well as Nadine Farid Johnson, Washington Director at PEN America.
Jordan called Khashoggi’s death “sickening” and “egregious.”
“Hatice we are with you. We must and will fight the good fight for Jamal and all Saudi human rights champions until justice and freedom prevail,” said Jordan.
Earlier, a group of representatives from rights organizations that included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Dawn MENA and Code Pink gathered outside the Saudi Embassy in D.C., demanding justice for Khashoggi.
“Jamal’s legacy lives on, and we will never forget the Saudi government’s horrific crime,” said CAIR National on Twitter.
Separately, the editorial board of The Washington Post posted an article Friday that said despite a CIA conclusion that bin Salman approved the killing, Biden decided not to hold him accountable and the US continues to do business with the kingdom, including a recent visit by national security adviser Jake Sullivan to meet the Saudi crown prince in Riyadh.
“There’s been no justice for Khashoggi, and there are darkening clouds on the horizon for others who would speak out,” said the board.
Stating that Khashoggi was “acutely aware of the difficulty” when he was writing, the newspaper said it is a good moment to reflect on the duty to speak out against authoritarian rule.
“The best way to honor his memory is to relentlessly pursue the freedom he sought for Saudi Arabia — and build it everywhere,” said the board.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk