Khashoggi’s widow urges US to hold Saudis to account 3 years later

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Washington (AFP)

The widow of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi on Friday questioned US President Joe Biden’s pledge to hold the kingdom accountable three years after the writer’s brutal murder.

On the occasion of the anniversary, Hatice Cengiz traveled to Washington for a protest in front of the Saudi Embassy and a night vigil near the United States Capitol where she unveiled a portrait of Khashoggi made from newspaper columns .

She expressed dismay that days before the anniversary, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who, according to U.S. intelligence, ordered the murder.

“Is that what the responsibility promised by Biden looks like?” she asked at the candlelight vigil organized by rights groups.

“MBS took Jamal from me and the whole world. Will you hold him responsible or reward these murderers? She said, referring to the apparent 36-year-old heir by his initials.

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi Arabian who lived in exile in the United States, wrote reviews of MBS in the Washington Post columns.

On October 2, 2018, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to file papers to marry Cengiz, who is Turkish. According to US and Turkish officials, a standby Saudi squad strangled him and dismembered his body, which was never found.

Then-US President Donald Trump played down the episode, saying it was more important for Saudi Arabia to buy US arms and share its hostility towards Iran.

Biden has promised a tougher approach, declassifying intelligence and imposing sanctions on the Saudis, but not on the crown prince himself.

U.S. officials said Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia, where MBS is also defense minister, primarily to discuss the crisis in Yemen, where the kingdom has waged a devastating air campaign aimed at defeating Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

The sister of Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, a Red Crescent aid worker arrested in 2018 and sentenced earlier this year to 20 years in prison after criticizing Saudi leaders via an anonymous Twitter account, also addressed the vigil. evening.

“They tortured him so much that they almost killed him. They broke his hand and smashed his fingers until they were disfigured, saying, ‘Is this the hand that you tweet? ‘, said her sister Areej al-Sadhan, who lives in California.

She said she hoped pressure from the new US administration would win her brother’s release, but that changed after Biden let MBS “off the hook.”

“This is how Saudi officials rewarded President Biden’s generosity, committing more human rights violations,” she said.