One Year After Khashoggi Murder, Still Looking for Accountability

Asli Pelit from VOA’s Turkish Service contributed to this report.The killing of prominent Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi shook the world one year ago, when the public learned how a Saudi government team assassinated and dismembered him inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.Khashoggi had criticized Saudi Arabia’s leaders for their repeated violations of human rights, persecution of critics and aggressive regional policies, including their role in Yemen’s four-year-long civil war.The CIA concluded, according to published reports, that Khashoggi’s murder was ordered by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, which led U.S. lawmakers to publicly condemn the country and try to halt U.S. weapon sales to the kingdom.FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019. The CIA has concluded that the Saudi royal ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.U.S. President Donald Trump defied members of his party to push through an $8.1 billion weapons sale, maintaining friendly relations with the kingdom which he cites as a bulwark against Iran’s influence. Trump insisted the U.S. couldn’t afford to give up huge arms sales to its Middle East ally.
“We may never know all the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said in November 2018. “As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!”Khashoggi’s fiancée says many countries including the United States failed to do the right thing and hold Saudis leaders responsible.“Controlling (vast) energy sources shouldn’t be enough to get away with murder,” Khashoggi’s fiancee, Turkish author Hatice Cengiz, said in an interview with VOA.The verdict in Cengiz’s mind was clear. Perhaps under different circumstances, absent “huge oil and arms deals” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi’s case would not be so easily dismissed at the highest level.Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, attends an event marking the one-year anniversary of his killing, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 2, 2019.Instead, she was left to watch a Saudi court try to demonstrate that it is holding people accountable.Eleven Saudi suspects would eventually stand trial in a Saudi Arabia courtroom. Five of them FILE – Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a G-20 summit event in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019.Ten days after the release of the report, Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders Plain-clothes security officers guard the entrance to Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, prior to a ceremony outside, marking the one-year anniversary of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Oct. 2, 2019.“By confessing this, he is also distancing himself from the killing of Jamal,” she said. “He’s saying that it happened under his watch, but he means he’s not involved in this crime.”Callamard, equally skeptical, told VOA, “We now need to see more actions taken if (state responsibility for the killing) was the intention. In particular, we have to have an official apology to the family and the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi.”Callamard maintains that to achieve justice for crimes involving the highest levels of government is “a marathon, not a 50-meter race.” In the months ahead, she and Cengiz both say that world leaders’ actions, or inactions, may determine the fate of others like Khashoggi.“[Khashoggi] was the kind of person that gave the U.S. the message, ‘Look, someone like this can also come from the Arab world,’” Cengiz said. “The murder of such a person is like killing those who think like him, that come after him, before they’re even born.”  

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