Slain journalist’s fiancee wants Saudis pressured at G-20
GENEVA (AP) — The fiancee of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi said she hopes Group of 20 leaders put pressure on Saudi Arabia at a summit this week to divulge more information about the killing, ratcheting up a campaign for justice that she also brought to the U.N.’s top human rights body Tuesday.
Hatice Cengiz spoke at a Human Rights Council event in Geneva about her grief from Khashoggi’s October death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. In an interview afterward, she said Saudi authorities “have to be punished in some way” for his slaying.
An independent U.N. expert said in a report made public last week that Saudi Arabia bears responsibility for The Washington Post columnist’s grisly apparent dismemberment by Saudi agents and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s possible role in the killing should be examined.
Cengiz said in an interview with The Associated Press that she wants U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders to press the issue at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where the crown prince is on the guest list.
“Saudi Arabia needs to take steps in order for us to find out the truth about this incident. They have to be punished in some way,” Cengiz said. “This incident cannot remain unanswered.”
Asked what she hoped the G-20 leaders would do at the summit on Friday and Saturday, she said: “Pressure can be put on Saudi Arabia.”
Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend that Khashoggi’s death has been investigated already and that when he and the Saudi prince spoke Thursday the journalist’s killing “didn’t come up.”
The independent U.N. expert’s report came out the day before, revealing new details.
In Geneva, Cengiz and U.N. special rapporteur expert Agnes Callamard appeared together Tuesday at a 90-minute event on the sidelines of a Human Rights Council meeting.
Khashoggi was killed inside the Istanbul consulate after he went there to pick up a document he needed for them to get married. Cengiz, a Turkish citizen, said the possibility her fiancee might not really be dead haunts her because his body hasn’t been found, compounding her loss with “an unbelievably different kind of trauma.”
She cited many of Callamard’s findings, which were released last week in a 101-page report that included an excruciatingly detailed account of what were alleged as Khashoggi’s final moments.
Speaking through a translator, Cengiz said the report needed to be acted upon and noted the crown prince may one day be Saudi Arabia’s head of state.
“The report points to the fact that important Saudi officials, big officials, may have been involved,” she said. “It says this should be pursued and it says that an international murder investigation should be opened.”
Cengiz said the “international public” needs to exert pressure to ensure the case isn’t forgotten “and the United Nations needs to take this to the next step.”
Her remarks were one of the testimonials at an organized by Canada and hosted by advocacy group No Peace Without Justice on the theme “Silencing Dissent.”
Most of the speakers criticized alleged rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Diplomats from Western nations and regional countries like Turkey and Qatar were in the audience.
During Tuesday’s panel, Callamard, an academic and longtime human rights advocate, decried a trend of violence against journalists and others who speak truth to power.
“The targeted killings of journalists, human rights defenders, dissenters more generally, is on the increase,” she said. “The most worrying pattern is that impunity for those killings and the continuation of those killings (has) not gone down.”
Saudi Arabia is among the 47 member states of the Human Rights Council, which opened its three-week summer session Monday. Callamard was expected to present her report formally on Wednesday, and the Saudi delegation is entitled to give a reply.