Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on Friday demanded justice and urged action to shed light on his assassination during a special hearing at the European Parliament.
The hearing in Brussels, where U.S. director Bryan Fogel’s documentary “The Dissident” screened, marked the two-year anniversary of the day Khashoggi walked into the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to complete paperwork for his marriage to Cengiz and never walked out.
“It has been two years, and we could not get justice for Jamal,” Cengiz said at an online press conference following the screening. She also underlined that basic questions around who killed the journalist and where his body is located still haven’t been answered two years later, though there has been a trial in Saudi Arabia that in September reached a verdict, convicting eight people of murder with varying jail sentences.
Besides having “tried to shame” European Members of Parliament who “were listening to me this morning,” as she put it, Khashoggi’s fiancée also pointed out that “the United States did not do anything” to get to the bottom of his murder, “even though Jamal was writing for the Washington Post,” Cengiz said.
The Brussels press conference was also attended by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Exécutions Agnès Callamard, the expert on extrajudicial executions who investigated Khashoggi’s killing. She has called the Saudi trial, which was shrouded in secrecy and resulted in eight unnamed defendants being sentenced to a maximum of 20 years, a travesty.
“We cannot let them dictate the course of history,” Callamard said, referring to Saudi powers at the highest levels, and urging further action to be taken.
“Bryan made a movie. Hatice stands up in front of the most powerful people and keeps asking for justice, and many others are doing things,” she added.
Callamard noted that, a few days ago, the mayors of some of the most important cities in the world, including London, New York and Los Angeles, refused to attend or send a representative to a major international summit hosted by Saudi Arabia as part of its chairmanship of the G20 annual political and financial forum.
“It is not as if nothing has happened when it comes to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” she said. “People have gotten organized and people have demanded justice and keep demanding justice.”
However, there is still a long way to go, Callamard added. “If your vision of justice is to see MBS [Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman] in front of a court, then I say, let’s be patient, let’s be resilient and let’s be determined,” she said. “Because that kind of outcome is going to take a while.”
Fogel, who in 2017 made the Oscar-winning doc “Icarus,” said he hoped his edge-of-your seat doc, conceived as a reality-based thriller, “will enshrine Kashoggi’s memory as well as ensure that justice is served, and that our society no longer turns a blind eye to the brutal human rights violations committed by the Saudi regime.”
Briarcliff Entertainment has announced that “The Dissident,” which launched from Sundance to rave reviews, will open in select U.S. theatres on Dec. 18. The film will also be released in U.K. and Ireland in 2021.