WASHINGTON – In an emotional hearing Thursday afternoon, Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, called for action to bring her husband’s killers to justice.
“In the early days, President Trump said that this would be solved, Ms. (Nancy) Pelosi talked about how unacceptable this was, but seven, eight months later, nothing has been done” to bring the perpetrators of Khashoggi’s killing to justice, Hatice Cengiz said through an interpreter Thursday before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights.
Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. That horrific killing broke Cengiz’s heart, rattled the international community and caused a political uproar in the United States, where Khashoggi was a legal resident and established columnist for the Washington Post. Later reports linked the killers to the Saudi Arabian government, in particular, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“As I was heading for such an exciting start, the fact that it was cut short on October 2, I still can’t make sense of it, I still can’t understand, I still feel that I will wake up and get back to that,” Cengiz continued. “And I still can’t understand that the world hasn’t done anything about this”
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“I think we choose between two things…we can either go on acting as if nothing happened, and walk out of here…or we can act, we can leave aside all international interests and politics and focus on the values for a better life,” she told lawmakers.
Eliot Engel, the House Foreign Affairs Committee also gave remarks, calling for “true accountability” for Khashoggi’s killing.
“It’s essential that our values lie at the center of our foreign policy,” Engel said.
Following a question from Committee Chairwoman Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., asking what to do about Khashoggi’s killing, Cengiz called for further investigations and sanctions on Saudi Arrabia.
Congress could help “undertake an international investigation, and put pressure on Saudi Arabia to share information with the public and the United States. There should be sanctions on Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Ranking Member Chris Smith, R-N.J., said that he found the lack of Saudi cooperation on the investigations into Khashoggi’s killing to be “appalling,” and called on sanctions to be imposed on the leadership of Saudi Arabia in connection with the killing.
The hearing focused on threats to journalists across the globe but particularly to those who document human rights abuses, as Khashoggi did in his accounts of repression and crackdowns in Saudi Arabia. Last year was the worst year on record for deadly violence and abuse toward journalists, according to a report released by Reporters Without Borders in December.
Bass told the hearing that “the numerous attacks on journalists around the world are jarring and it is clear there is a profound global crisis of press freedom.”
At least 80 journalists were killed in 2018, 348 were imprisoned and 60 were held hostage, the report said. The United States was included among the world’s most dangerous places for journalists because of the fatal shooting of five employees of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
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