Khashoggi's fiancee demands 'punishment' for Saudi Crown Prince MBS over dissident's murder

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Josie Ensor
·3 min read
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Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish academic researcher, said in a statement. "If the crown prince is not punished, it will forever endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity" - AP
Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish academic researcher, said in a statement. "If the crown prince is not punished, it will forever endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity" - AP

Pressure is growing on Joe Biden to take action against Saudi’s Crown Prince, as the fiancee of murdered dissident Jamal Khashoggi said it would be a “stain on humanity” if Mohammed bin Salman was not punished.

Hatice Cengiz welcomed the release by the Biden administration last week of a US intelligence report that concluded Prince Mohammed had approved the killing of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, but warned it was “not enough”.

An Office for the Director of National Intelligence found the prince, known as MBS, had ordered the hit, and Washington imposed sanctions on some of those involved - but not the prince himself.

Asked about criticism of Washington for not sanctioning Prince Mohammed directly, President Joe Biden said an declaration on this would be made on Monday.

The State Department only said, however, that it was "considering taking additional steps to promote accountability," but did not announce any new measures against Riyadh.

“Global diplomacy requires holding countries accountable when needed but also acting in the national interest of the United States,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, told journalists on Monday, defending the administration’s decision.

A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with blood on his hands protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC - AFP
A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with blood on his hands protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC - AFP

"Historically, and even in recent history there have not been sanctions put in place for the leaders of foreign governments where we have diplomatic relations," she went on. "We believe there are more effective ways to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Ms Cengiz, a Turkish academic researcher, said in a statement that she was disappointed that Mr Biden, who pledged during the presidential campaign to hold Khashoggi’s killers to account, had failed to live up to his promise.

"It is essential that the crown prince, who ordered the brutal murder of a blameless and innocent person, should be punished without delay," she said. "If the crown prince is not punished, it will forever... endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity.”

The 39-year-old made a plea that world leaders distance themselves from MBS and impose punishments such as sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

"Starting with the Biden Administration, it is vital for all world leaders to ask themselves if they are prepared to shake hands with [Prince Mohammed]," she said. "I urge everyone to put their hands on their hearts and campaign to punish the crown prince.”

In an emotional interview with CNN, Ms Cengiz added: "I am [more] devastated than ever before. Now I believe he will never come back."

Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on summary executions, called for targeted sanctions against MBS’s assets and his international engagements.

"It is extremely problematic, in my view, if not dangerous, to acknowledge someone's culpability and then to tell that someone 'but we won't do anything, please proceed as if we have said nothing'," she said.

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Republican and Democratic members of Congress have also called on Mr Biden to impose further sanctions.

Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democratic Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Mr Biden had demonstrated his commitment to transparency and compliance with law "by ending Donald Trump's cover up of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi."