Evidence is mounting to show that the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. But Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, says she is still holding out hope that he is alive.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who wrote for the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate on October 2 to get paperwork that would allow him to marry Hatice Cengiz, his Turkish fiancee. He has not been seen since. On Thursday night, Turkish authorities said they had audio recordings to prove that the journalist had been assaulted and killed in the embassy. Saudi authorities deny that they had anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance. Khashoggi often wrote critically about the Saudi regime and about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Here’s what you need to know about Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee:
1. She Is Not Ready to Give up Hope Yet
الذين يسألون عن حالتي …! كأنني أعيش بين الحياة والموت، بين السماء والأرض بين الجنة والجهنم … أصحى من نومي بالأمل وافقد كل آمالي بعد غروب الشمس … اموت كل يوم ألف مرة ..! يا حى يا قيوم .. صبرني 🙁 #جمال_خاشفجي #أين_جمال_خاشقجي pic.twitter.com/MQE0EBNTlj
— Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) October 11, 2018
Cengiz told CNN that she didn’t feel comfortable doing an on-air interview. But she did agree to answer written questions from Christiane Amanpour. Cengiz told Amanpour that she wasn’t ready to make any “bold comment” about what may have happened to her fiance. She indicated that she is still holding out hope that her fiance is alive — in spite of reports that he was brutally killed inside the Saudi embassy. Cengiz told CNN, “Images in the media point to the possibility of an abduction or an assassination. I hope that it does not turn out to be murder, as alleged by these images. Until official statements are made, it makes more sense to wait a bit longer and to see the final result as opposed to making a bold comment.”
On October 2, Khashoggi went to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul so that he could get paperwork which would allow him to marry Cengiz. Cengiz accompanied him to the embassy and waited inside for him. But Khashoggi never came back out. Cengiz has written on social media about her suffering as she waits for news of her fiance; she describes feeling torn between hope and despair, writing, “As I live between life and death, between heaven and earth between heaven and Hell… Wake up from my sleep with hope and lose all my hopes after sunset… I die every day a thousand times..!”
Turkish authorities say they have audio recordings proving that a team of 15 Saudi men killed Khashoggi in a gruesome encounter inside the embassy. Turkish authorities say the men, who arrived in Istanbul on October 2, came to Turkey for the sole purpose of killing Khashoggi. Many of the men have close ties to the Saudi government. Khashoggi was a critic of the Saudi government and especially of the Crown Prince.
2. Hatice and Jamal Were on the Verge of Starting a New Life Together
Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee, in op-ed for The Post, implores Trump to help shed light on Saudi journalist's disappearance in Turkey https://t.co/IYf8UVRyTq
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 10, 2018
In an essay for the Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz describes the new life that she and Jamal were planning on. Like any other couple about to get married, she and Jamal were thinking about both the big picture and the small details. On the day that Jamal disappeared, the couple had been planning to run errands in the afternoon — they were going to shop for new appliances for their home. Then they had planned on having dinner with Cengiz’s family.
But in the big picture, Cengiz says, she and Jamal were excited about the new life they were embarking on together. They were planning to divide their time between Istanbul, where Cengiz’s family lives, and Washington DC. Cengiz says that Jamal, a columnist for the Washington Post, was feeling energized. She writes that “the clouds were clearing” for Jamal, who had been depressed for many years since leaving Saudi Arabia.
3. Cengiz and Khashoggi First Met at a Conference in May
جمال لم يقتل ولا اصدق أنه قد قتل …! #جمال_الخاشقجي #اختطاف_جمال_خاشقجي pic.twitter.com/5SHyIEqqiT
— Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) October 6, 2018
Cengiz, 36, is a PhD candidate at a university in Istanbul. She first met Khashoggi back in May, during a conference in Istanbul. The two fell in love and became engaged to get married. Cengiz told the Washington Post that even before meeting Khashoggi, she knew who he was and was familiar with his work. She said that she attended his speech at the conference and afterward she asked him a question. The two started talking and quickly developed a relationship. Their relationship developed quickly and it wasn’t long before they became engaged. A friend of Khashoggi’s said that Cengiz’s father was initially skeptical about their relationship because of their large age gap; Khashoggi is 59 years old. But Cengiz’s father eventually consented.
In order to get married, Khashoggi needed to prove that he had already legally divorced his first wife. That’s why he went to the Saudi embassy on October 2; he needed a copy of his divorce papers.
4. Saudi Media Claims Cengiz Has Close Ties to Qatar & Says Khashoggi’s Family Doesn’t Even Know Her
"I need to know, where is Jamal? I have to know what has happened to him.” https://t.co/kEsXET93zj
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 9, 2018
Al-Arabiya, a Saudi news outlet with close ties to the government, has questioned whether Cengiz really was engaged to Khashoggi. The newspaper ran an article claiming that Cengiz is one of the “three figures behind the Khashoggi mystery.” The other two “figures” named in the story are Turan Kışlakçı, a Turkish journalist, and Jamal Elshayyal, a journalist with the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera. Al-Arabiya claims that these three figures have been spreading lies and “fake news” about what happened to Khashoggi, as part of a larger plot to “spark panic and place blame on Saudi authorities.”
Al-Arabiya says that Cengiz is a critic of Saudi Arabia who supports Saudi Arabia’s nemesis, Qatar. The article says, “Cengiz’s Twitter feed reveals that she follows and endorses people who are critics of Saudi Arabia, organizations known to enjoy Qatari funding, Muslim Brotherhood members and Turkey’s ruling party. She has even openly tweeted that she opposes Saudi policies.”
Al-Arabiya also charges that — although Cengiz “claimed” to be engaged to Khashoggi — Khashoggi’s family did not know her.
5. Cengiz Has Been Begging Donald and Melania Trump to Help Find Her Fiance
and what about @JKhashoggi #JamalKashoggi ?! https://t.co/ADlZfp3EJE
— Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) October 12, 2018
Cengiz has been asking the US government to take action in helping to find her fiance. In her Washington Post op-ed, Cengiz wrote, “At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance. I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”
Trump has said he is concerned about Khashoggi’s case. Khashoggi, a Saudi national, worked for the Washington Post and had applied for US citizenship. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for a thorough investigation of his disappearance.
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