Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi Arabian defector and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, has denied an offer to visit the White House extended to her by Donald Trump, according to the BBC.
Speaking to Turkish TV about her decision, Cengiz said that she believes Trump’s offer is only aimed at optics and molding a better public opinion in the United States. Cengiz contends that the American president’s response to Khashoggi’s murder has not been an honest effort aimed at punishing the culprits, but instead more focused on leveraging public support for his stance.
In a column Cengiz wrote earlier this month for the New York Times, she had maintained that she would accept Trump’s invitation to visit the U.S. only if he actually tried to push for a transparent investigation into Khashoggi’s murder.
“[If Trump makes] a genuine contribution to the efforts to reveal what happened inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that day, I will consider accepting his invitation.”
Trump’s stance on the journalist’s murder, not unlike the narratives forwarded by the Saudi Arabian administration, has fluctuated drastically over the last few weeks. While he initially said that Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s defense sounded “credible,” he recently called the plan the “worst cover-up in history” after Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor admitted that there had been an attempt to whitewash some senior officials’ roles in what was a botched operation.
Meanwhile, Cengiz has also pushed ahead with her support of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called on the Saudi Arabian crown prince to reveal the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi’s remains. Turkey claims to have enough evidence to link the Saudi Arabian administration with the murder, including an audio recording that reportedly contains proof of Saudi agents torturing and dismembering Khashoggi’s body. Earlier this week, CIA Director Gina Haspel flew to Turkey and reportedly listened to the recording, and observers claim that it is possible the U.S. Congress might want to hear what Haspel has to say about the evidence.
Cengiz also revealed in the interview that neither she nor Khashoggi had any inkling of the intentions of the Saudi administration. Although she claimed that Khashoggi was worried about being captured, he never thought the Saudi administration could dare to kill him in a foreign land.
“His local network in Turkey was very good as you know, his political network as well,” she said according to the Guardian. “He thought Turkey is a safe country and if he would be held or interrogated, this issue would be swiftly solved.”