• Hatice Cengiz, was the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi
  • Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
  • The CIA contends that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said he will invite Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Washington Post columnist, as his guest at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening.

Khashoggi, who was born in Saudi Arabia and lived in Virginia, was killed in October 2018 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Central Intelligence Agency later determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing of Khashoggi because he often criticized the Riyadh government.

Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers so he could marry Cengiz, a Turkish national. Khashoggi was reportedly murdered and dismembered with a bone saw as Cengiz waited for him outside the consulate walls.

“Hatice’s courage to sit in the house chamber Tuesday night should serve as a clarion call to the president that no matter how high it goes, Saudi Arabia must be held accountable for the murder of this loving father and fiancee, respected journalist, U.S. resident, my constituent, and reformer,” Connolly, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement on Monday. “Congress has acted. Now too must the president.”

Connolly has introduced a piece of legislation called “Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act,” which seeks to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi’s death. The act would ban arm sales to Saudi intelligence for 120 days and then every 120 days thereafter until the Saudis satisfy certain human rights conditions.

The act also seeks to determine if Saudi officials intimidated or harassed Khashoggi and if U.S. intelligence properly warned him of any impending danger to his life as they are required to do.

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been accused of helping to cover up the murder of Khashoggi while embracing and praising the Crown Prince. Salman has himself denied he had prior knowledge that Khashoggi would be murdered or that he had ordered the killing.

The Guardian reported last week that Saudi Arabia had plans to spy on Khashoggi's fiancee in the U.K.

U.S. intelligence authorities has asked their British counterparts to watch Cengiz closely after they learned the Saudis were keeping her under surveillance last year. She had also been an outspoken critic of Riyadh.

Human rights activists have long contended that the Saudis use surveillance to watch and intimidate dissidents and critics of the regime.

“Saudi Arabia is trying to put a lid on the whole [Khashoggi] thing, so it is understandable that they would try to make sure that Hatice’s voice and advocacy is limited,” said Hala Aldosari, a Saudi activist and fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “All sorts of unlawful behavior continues; nothing has changed.”

The U.S. State Department recently nixed a proposal by a U.S. defense contractor DynCorp to train Saudi intelligence services, citing that the kingdom lacked “proper safeguards in place to prevent lawless covert operations” including the killing of Khashoggi.

“[The Saudis] use a variety of tools as a matter of course. It is state policy,” said Andrew Miller, who served on the National Security Council under former President Barack Obama. “Obviously the fallout from the Khashoggi murder has not fundamentally changed the Saudi state’s posture. Fortunately, no one else has been kidnapped and killed but they are still pursuing information about their opponents.”

In December 2019, a court in Saudi Arabia condemned five unnamed people to death and imprisoned three others in connection with the killing of Khashoggi. The murder trial was conducted in secrecy.

But Cengiz, 37, mocked the sentences.

"It’s like a joke to me. It’s unacceptable, really, because we don’t know any details about this investigation," Cengiz told an Oslo television station. "They told us of only five men without names. And why they are [only] five? More than 10 people came to Turkey [to kill Khashoggi].”

Cengiz added: "We want real punishment, even for [those who gave the] orders.”
Cengiz and others contend that those who ordered the killing have not been punished.

"Bottom line: the hitmen are guilty, sentenced to death, and the masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial," said Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions for the United Nations human rights office. "That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery.”

Callamard's U.N. probe from the summer of 2019 determined that 15 Saudi agents "acted under cover of their official status and used state means to execute Mr. Khashoggi."