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Khashoggi fiancée urges Trump to get tough on Saudi killers

Hatice Cengiz made the remarks during a press conference in Istanbul [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2019

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During a press conference in Istanbul, Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz said she hoped pressure from Congress would encourage Trump to take a tougher stance.
The Turkish fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said she hoped pressure from the US Congress would encourage the Trump administration to take a tougher stance on the killing.

Hatice Cengiz made the remarks during a press conference in Istanbul for a new book on Khashoggi's life, titled "Jamal Khashoggi: his life, his fight, his secrets”. The book, which is also due to be published in English next week, was written by Turkish journalists Mehmet Akif Ersoy and Sinan Onus with testimony from Cengiz.

In the book, Cengiz shares her memories and papers detailing the life of former Saudi insider turned critic Khashoggi "who was a journalist for you, but a man for me".

In the months following his gruesome death, Cengiz rejected an invitation from Trump to the White House. However, she said on Friday that "a visit to the United States could take place in March". She hoped the US leader would have a change of "attitude" and "follow the case closely".

"I have hope, not necessarily regarding Trump, but about the fact that the new Congress will follow this case more closely," she said, struggling with tears as she spoke.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed on October 2 by Saudi agents during a visit to his country's consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork ahead of his wedding to Cengiz.

On Thursday, special UN rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, said after a visit to Turkey that Khashoggi's killing had been "planned and perpetrated" by Saudi officials. Khashoggi had written critical pieces on the Riyadh administration in the Post.

Trump faces a Friday deadline set by Congress to determine if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi.

His murder was met with international outrage and considerably hurt the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is accused of having ordered the killing.

While Riyadh denies any involvement of Prince Mohammed, the crown prince has been implicated in the murder by American senators based on the CIA's conclusions.

But the Trump administration has said there is no irrefutable evidence of Prince Mohammed's involvement, and has stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between Washington and Riyadh.

Cengiz refused to comment on the accusations against the crown prince, saying only that she awaited the completion of Turkey's investigation. 

However she denounced the fact that Khashoggi's remains still had not been found.

'Use a bullet'

Meanwhile, a New York Times report this week revealed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he would use "a bullet" on journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2017.

Prince Mohammed is heard telling top aide Turki Aldakhil that Khashoggi, who was murdered last October, should return to Saudi Arabia or be brought back forcefully. If these two scenarios did not occur, he would kill Khashoggi with "a bullet", according to American officials with direct knowledge of the intercepts. 

The conversation was intercepted by American intelligence agencies in their attempts to uncover who was behind Khashoggi's death. 

The National Security Agency (NSA) and other US spy agencies have been combing through bin Salman's voice and text communications, according to the report.

US officials made clear to the NYT that bin Salman most likely did not mean use "a bullet" literally. But the conversation he had with his aid does strongly indicate that the prince wanted Khashoggi dead.

In their conversation, bin Salman and Aldakhil expressed  their concern at Khashoggi's prominence and his criticism of the Saudi regime. Their conversation in September 2017 took place at the same time that Khashoggi began writing for The Washington Post. 

The NSA has been circulating reports about the crown prince's communications to spy agencies, the White House and close foreign allies, the NYT reported. Shortly after Khashoggi's death, the CIA concluded the hit was ordered by the Saudi prince. 

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