Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, describes Joe Biden’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia as “heartbreaking,” accusing the US president of backing down from his pledge of prioritizing human rights.
In an interview with The Associated Press in Istanbul a day before Biden travels to Saudi Arabia to meet with the crown prince, Cengiz says Biden should press Saudi Arabia — a country that she describes as a “terrible ally” — to embrace a human rights agenda. She also wants Biden to seek more answers from Saudi authorities over what happened to Khashoggi’s remains.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long denied any knowledge or involvement in Khashoggi’s killing, which was carried out inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by agents who worked for the young heir to the throne. A US intelligence report that Biden declassified after coming to office said Khashoggi’s killing could not have happened without Prince Mohammed’s knowledge.
Cengiz had gone with Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate for an appointment to pick up documents needed to marry her. While she waited outside, he went in — and never reappeared.
“That day destroyed my life. And I don’t want to remember any part of that day,” Cengiz says, recalling that they had planned to choose new furniture for their home after his consulate visit and meet with friends.
Biden said during his campaign that he believes Khashoggi was killed on orders of Prince Mohammed, describing the kingdom as a “pariah” and stating “there’s very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia.”
“It’s a very huge backing down,” Cengiz says of Biden’s decision now to reset diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. “It’s heartbreaking and disappointing. And Biden will lose his moral authority by putting oil and expediency over principles and values.”
“One of Biden’s promises (was) being different. It was a very big hope to me to believe, again, that Biden will do something for me and for Jamal,” she says. “Instead of being different now, he’s doing the same and embracing dictators in the region right now. So it’s very disappointing for me.”
“He has to ask what happened to his body? Where is his body? Still we do not have any answer,” she adds. “And people need to get the truth in this case. And we cannot forget.”
“We cannot forget what happened to Jamal.”