Khashoggi's fiancee says Saudi crown prince's visits do not absolve him


FILE PHOTO: Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, talks to Reuters outside Justice Palace, the Caglayan Courthouse, after attending a trial on the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian Consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey April 7, 2022. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Wednesday that the political legitimacy Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives during visits to other countries does not change the fact that he is a "murderer".

A U.S. intelligence report released last year said Prince Mohammed had approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi in October 2018. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejected the report's findings.

The prince began his regional tour on Tuesday by visiting Egypt and is expected to meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday.

It is Prince Mohammed's first tour outside the Gulf since the 2018 murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's Turkish fiancee, said on Twitter: "His visit to our country doesn't change the fact that he is responsible for a murder. 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."

She added: "Jamal is not my story anymore, this struggle for justice is not only my struggle. It is the struggle of every free and thinking person. No diplomatic relation can legitimise this unfairness and injustice."

Ties between Ankara and Riyadh took a turn for the worse after a Saudi hit squad killed and dismembered Khashoggi in Istanbul. Erdogan at the time blamed it on the "highest levels" of the Saudi government.

But a Turkish court ruled to transfer the Turkish case over the killing to Saudi Arabia. Turkey denied the transfer was political.

Weeks after the case was transferred, Erdogan held one-on-one talks with the prince in Saudi Arabia in April after a months-long drive to mend relations.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for Khashoggi's murder. None of those convicted were named.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Alison Williams)

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