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Sunday 15 September 2019

Khashoggi fiancee asks Trump to press Saudis for his body

Hatice Cengiz made the appeal in a video message to a memorial in Washington.

An activist holds a portrait reading “Friends of Khashoggi” (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
An activist holds a portrait reading “Friends of Khashoggi” (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

By Matthew Pennington, Associated Press

The Turkish fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi has called for Donald Trump to pressure Saudi Arabia to reveal the location of the murdered journalist’s body, even as she criticised the US administration for its dealings with the kingdom.

Hatice Cengiz made her appeal in a video message to a memorial in Washington where friends and activists marked one month since Mr Khashoggi’s death and paid tribute to his advocacy for democratic change in the Arab world.

Ms Cengiz urged the president to support Turkey’s request for Saudi Arabia to extradite those it has detained in connection with the killing of the 59-year-old columnist for the Washington Post.

Hatice Cengiz . (John Stillwell/PA via AP)

“I would like him to support Turkey’s efforts in trying to bring light to this situation and to discover the whereabouts of his body,” said Ms Cengiz, who was waiting outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 when the journalist went inside to obtain paperwork for their planned marriage, never to re-emerge.

She said that without his body, Mr Khashoggi’s loved ones have been unable to hold funeral prayers for him. “Our pain is still as fresh as the first day,” she said.

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor announced on Wednesday that Mr Khashoggi was strangled immediately after he entered and that his body was dismembered and removed from the consulate.

Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 suspects so they can be put on trial in Turkey. They include 15 members of an alleged Saudi hit squad that Turkey says was sent to Istanbul to kill Mr Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the US and had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Amr Nabil/AP)

Some of those implicated are close to the prince, whose condemnation of the killing has failed to ease suspicions that he was involved.

Saudi Arabia has changed its narrative about the killing several times, but has recently acknowledged that Turkish evidence shows it was premeditated.

On Thursday, US state department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters Mr Khashoggi’s remains should be located and returned for a proper burial.

Speaking at Friday’s memorial at a Washington hotel, Democrat Gerry Connolly, who represents the northern Virginia district where Mr Khashoggi had been based for the last year of his life, said that since the killing, Saudi Arabia has “blatantly concocted a series of lies” in its attempt to cover up what happened.

“There’s only one lie left to be addressed and that’s the involvement of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia himself,” Mr Connolly said.

Mr Trump has condemned the killing in strong terms but has also defended US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest foreign customer for American weaponry.

Writing in the Washington Post on Friday, Ms Cengiz said the US should be leading the international community in seeking justice for Mr Khashoggi. She contended that the Trump administration has “taken a position that is devoid of moral foundation” because of fears of “upsetting deals or economic ties”.

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