Khashoggi fiancee: Saudi crown prince must be 'punished without delay'

Hatice Cengiz calls on Joe Biden to serve justice after US finds Mohammed bin Salman approved journalist’s killing

Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee has said Mohammed bin Salman must be “punished without delay” after the publication of a US intelligence assessment found the Saudi crown prince approved of the journalist’s killing.

“The truth – that was already known – has been revealed one more time, and is now confirmed,” said Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish researcher who was engaged to marry Khashoggi, in a statement on Monday. “Yet this is not enough, since the truth can only be meaningful when it serves justice being achieved.”

The US government on Friday released a four-page report confirming it viewed the Saudi future king as personally involved in the murder of one of his most prominent critics. But Washington stopped short of targeting the future Saudi king with financial or other sanctions.

Cengiz called on the Joe Biden administration to punish Prince Mohammed, 35, in order to seek justice for Khashoggi and “prevent similar acts recurring in the future”.

She said: “Starting with the Biden administration, it is vital for all world leaders to ask themselves if they are prepared to shake hands with a person whose culpability for murder has been proven, but not yet punished.”

The White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, on Sunday stood by the move not to target the crown prince despite growing criticism from some Democrats.

“We believe there [are] more effective ways to make sure this doesn’t happen again and to also be able to leave room to work with the Saudis on areas where there is mutual agreement – where there are national interests for the United States. That is what diplomacy looks like,” Psaki told CNN.

The Biden administration is preparing to unveil a new policy towards Riyadh on Monday, though the president has been vague in describing what it will entail, saying only that it would be “significant” and make clear that “the rules are changing”.

“We are going to hold them accountable for human rights abuses,” Biden told Univision, saying he had warned King Salman about the announcement in a phone conversation on Friday.

The intelligence assessment’s release was accompanied by the unveiling of a new “Khashoggi policy” which is set to impose visa sanctions on individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, engage in “counter-dissident” activities, including harassment, surveillance, and threats against journalists, activists, and dissidents.

Along with the publication on Friday of a partially redacted version of the US intelligence assessment on the October 2018 Khashoggi murder, the Biden administration said it was imposing visa restrictions on 76 Saudis involved in the killing and in the intimidation of Saudi critics in the US. Psaki’s remarks on Sunday appeared to rule out including Prince Mohammed on that list.

The Biden administration has also announced an end to US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, but will continue to supply the kingdom with defensive weapons. It is not yet clear how it will define offensive and defensive weapons and what arms sales will be stopped.

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