Jamal Khashoggi: Fiancee of missing journalist says those behind disappearance 'must be held accountable and punished'

'Oppression never lasts forever. Tyrants eventually pay for their sins'

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 14 October 2018 16:13 BST
Jamal Khashoggi disappearance: Forensics team to scour grounds of Saudi embassy in Istanbul

The fiancee of a Saudi journalist who has been missing for nearly two weeks has said those behind his disappearance “must be held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law”.

Jamal Khashoggi, who has been an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, went missing after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkish officials believe the 59-year-old was murdered by a Saudi “assassination squad” at the consulate – a charge Saudi Arabia has condemned as “lies and baseless allegations” against the kingdom.

Mr Khashoggi “was a patriot”, his soon-to-be wife, Hatice Cengiz, wrote in The New York Times. “When people referred to him as a dissident, he would reject that definition. ‘I am an independent journalist using his pen for the good of his country,’ he would say.

“He left Saudi Arabia because it was the only way he could write and speak about issues and ideas that he cared about, and to work without compromising his dignity.”

Mr Khashoggi’s alleged torture and death may have been recorded on his Apple Watch, a Turkish newspaper report said on Saturday.

The pro-government, privately owned daily Sabah said the watch had synced with his iPhone, which he had left outside the consulate with his fiancee.

CCTV footage shows Jamal Khashoggi entering Saudi embassy in Istanbul

Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee said: “Jamal spoke up against oppression, but he paid for the Saudi people’s demand for freedom with his own life.”

She added: “Oppression never lasts forever. Tyrants eventually pay for their sins.”

It comes as the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said the UK must apply the same standards to Saudi Arabia as it does to Russia and hold the state to account over the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, the Labour MP said “the balance of evidence” suggested Saudi Arabia had killed the journalist.

“We would stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia in current circumstances until they changed their ways ... We would be making it clear that we disagreed,” she said. “I think our country has had enough of this. I think we have to stand up to them and have to say that the current behaviour is unacceptable.”

Ms Thornberry also put her criticism of Britain’s response so far in writing in a piece for The Observer, where she said: “We must apply the same standards to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt that we apply to Iran, Russia and Syria.

“Where any of them abuse human rights and breach international humanitarian law, we must be prepared to call it out in the same measure, rather than treating it as one rule for our supposed friends and another for our supposed enemies.”

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, has been under increasing pressure to take tough action over the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, and has said that if reports of Mr Khashoggi’s death prove correct, the UK would regard the situation as “serious”.

But Ms Thornberry said it was “too little, far too late”.

In response to her article, Mr Hunt tweeted: “From the party whose leader wouldn’t even condemn Russia by name after the first ever chemical weapons attack on British soil... we have been robust and will continue to be on this very troubling issue.”

The Saudi stock market plunged on Sunday after Donald Trump threatened “severe punishment” over Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In an interview to be aired on Sunday, the US president told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the consequences of Saudi Arabia being involved would be “severe”.

“There’s something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that was the case, so we’re going to have to see,” Mr Trump said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.”

However, in the same interview he said: “As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.”

Saudi Arabia warned it would retaliate to any “threats” taken against it following Mr Trump’s warning.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether through economic sanctions, political pressure or repeating false accusations,” it said in a statement.

“The kingdom also affirms that if it is [targeted by] any action, it will respond with greater action.”

Britain, France and Germany have told Saudi Arabia they were treating the case with “the utmost seriousness”.

“There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and – if relevant – to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account,” the foreign ministers from the three countries said in a joint statement.

“We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities.”

The statement, by the foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian and Germany’s Heiko Maas, made no mention of potential actions the countries might take.

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