Widow of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi granted political asylum in US

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DUBAI: The widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was granted political asylum late last month in the United States, according to the New York Times.

Khashoggi, who was a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, was killed on October 2, 2018, in Turkey, where he had gone to obtain paperwork certifying his divorce from his former wife Alaa Nassif in order to be able to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

His killing had brought international outrage and battered the reputation of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Salman. According to a US declassified report, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince approved an operation in Istanbul to capture or kill Khashoggi.

“I feel great and that I’ve taken the right decision to come to this country”, his widow Hanan Elatr Khashoggi said in an interview, according to New York Times. “I can feel more safe now that I’m not afraid to be handed over to any dictator in the Middle East”.

Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, who was born in Egypt and married the late Saudi journalist in 2018, fled from the United Arab Emirates to the United States in July 2020.

One of the few recent reminders of the aftermath of the killing — which caused international outcry and strained ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia, but never resulted in a lasting rupture — is her successful refugee claim. Though relations between the US and the Kingdom have begun to improve, individuals close to Khashoggi have persisted in calling for consequences on those they believe were involved, the New York Times reported.

The refuge was granted to the widow of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi operatives at the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul in 2018, more than three years after she fled to the United States.

In July, 2022, US President Joe Biden, who was there in Saudi Arabia at that time, raised the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and said that he believed the Saudi leader was responsible for the US-based journalist’s death.

“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now”, Biden said in a speech after hours of meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah. “I said, very straightforwardly, that for an American President to be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am”, Biden continued, The Hill reported.

A US judge then, in December, dismissed the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This statement came after US President Joe Biden’s administration recommended that the crown prince be granted immunity in the case, CNN reported.

It is pertinent to mention that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a dissident Saudi journalist who was killed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The case was brought against Arabia’s crown prince by Khashoggi’s fiancee, according to CNN.

During the court filing, the State Department expressed misgivings about Khashoggi’s murder in its determination last month that Crown Prince Mohammed was legally immune. “In making this immunity determination, the Department of State takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi”, the department said.

Judge John Bates said in an opinion that despite his “uneasiness”, the US government told the DC District Court that Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune since he also holds the title of prime minister and so he is “entitled to head of state immunity”, according to the CNN. (ANI)

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