Khashoggi: Saudi crown prince still ‘a murderer’ says fiancee, as MBS visits Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a handshake at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022. Reuters/Umit Bektas

By Middle East Eye

Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz on Wednesday called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a “murderer”, as she slammed his first visit to Ankara since the Middle East Eye columnist’s assassination at the hands of Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018.

“His visit to our country doesn’t change the fact that he is responsible for a murder,” Cengiz said in a series of tweets.

“The political legitimacy he earns through the visits he makes to a different country every day doesn’t change the fact that he is a murderer.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the crown prince at the presidential palace in Ankara on Wednesday with a ceremony that included a 21-gun salute, before being met by Turkish ministers.

A statement released the Turkish presidency hours after the crown prince’s arrival said the two countries agreed deepen consultations and cooperate on regional issues.

They also agreed to& deepen cooperation through the Saudi-Turk Coordination Council and develop projects on energy, specifically renewables, with Ankara inviting Riyadh to make investments in Turkish startups.

They also agreed to start bilateral defense cooperation deals and underlined the importance of developing sustainable tourism cooperation between the two countries.

Turkish officials have been seeking a currency swap deal with Saudi Arabia to boost the Turkish Central Bank’s reserves. It is not immediately clear how much Ankara is seeking to restore its foreign reserves, however, a Turkish official told Reuters that negotiations were not moving “as fast as desired” and will be discussed privately between Erdogan and the crown prince.

The crown prince kicked off his first regional tour in three years on Monday with visits to Cairo and Amman.

Ties between Ankara and Riyadh soured since Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, in a gruesome murder that shocked the world.

In April, a Turkish court transferred the Khashoggi murder case to Saudi Arabia, which involved 26 suspects linked to the assassination. The case transfer opened the way for a rapprochement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan visited the kingdom soon after the court’s decision and met the& crown prince, who the CIA says gave the order to kill Khashoggi.

‘Continue to seek justice’

Cengiz said in her statement that the international order left her alone in her fight for justice.

“None of the diplomatic engagements would legitimise the unfairness and the injustice,” she said. “We have to continue to seek justice until every effort is futile. Ultimately, as an individual who puts her faith in eternal justice, I believe no crime goes unpunished.”

An Istanbul judge, Nimet Demir, who opposed the transfer of Khashoggi’s murder case to Saudi Arabia, was relocated on Sunday to work in southern Turkey, usually a workplace for junior judges.

Demir, the chief judge from Istanbul’s 12th High Criminal Court, said that she petitioned for her retirement after it was made clear to her that she was not going to be allowed to take leave.

“I was trying to uphold democracy, human rights and freedoms. This is something that would cause special attention under autocratic systems. And I’m a victim,” Demir told Turkish media.

However, there remains a second lawsuit in a US federal court that was filed by Cengiz and the US-based advocacy group Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), which Khashoggi established and ran before his death.

The judge in the lawsuit in Washington DC has yet to rule whether the court has jurisdiction. If he does, the lawsuit could open what one source described as a “pandora’s box” of information, with the court potentially demanding that the crown prince gives evidence in person.