Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée took US President Joe Biden to task over his failure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of the dissident journalist, during an emotional speech in Washington marking the third anniversary of the assassination.
Hatice Cengiz asked Washington to show commitment to the prosecution of Saudi officials involved in the gruesome killing and urged US President Joe Biden to fulfill his promise to not let the Washington Post columnist's death be in vain.
Cengiz expressed disappointment that Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, had met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who, according to US intelligence, ordered the assassination, just days before the anniversary.
“Is this what the accountability that Mr. Biden promised looks like?” she asked at a candlelight vigil organized by rights groups in Washington.
“MBS took Jamal from me and the entire world. Will you hold him accountable or will you reward these murderers?” she added, referring to the 36-year-old Saudi heir apparent by his initials.
"President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris! When will you step up and fulfill your promises? When will you translate your words into action?"
Cengiz traveled to Washington to take part in an organized demonstration outside the Saudi embassy and an evening vigil near the US Capitol, where she unveiled a portrait of Khashoggi made out of newspaper columns.
Among those demanding justice for Khashoggi outside the Saudi embassy was a group of representatives from rights organizations including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Dawn MENA and Code Pink.
"Jamal's legacy lives on, and we will never forget the Saudi government's horrific crime," said CAIR National on Twitter.
The editorial board of The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi used to work, posted an article Friday that said despite a CIA conclusion that MBS approved the killing, Biden decided not to hold him accountable and the US continues to do business with the kingdom.
"There’s been no justice for Khashoggi, and there are darkening clouds on the horizon for others who would speak out," the board said. "The best way to honor his memory is to relentlessly pursue the freedom he sought for Saudi Arabia – and build it everywhere.”
Khashoggi was murdered by agents of the Saudi government in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, after being lured to the consulate building on the pretext of providing him with papers for his upcoming wedding. He was suffocated and dismembered while his fiancée was waiting outside for him. His remains have not been found.
Saudi Arabia initially issued conflicting stories about Khashoggi’s disappearance, but eventually said that he was killed in a “rogue” operation.
Despite official denials by Riyadh, some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said MBS ordered the assassination, causing an international uproar against Saudi Arabia.
During his presidential campaign, Biden called Saudi Arabia “a pariah,” pledging to take a much tougher line with the kingdom than Donald Trump had.
However, apart from sanctions on some lower-ranking Saudi officials, no other punitive measures have been taken against the kingdom.