WASHINGTON (Rahnuma) : U.S. lawmakers on Thursday demanded justice for slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, 100 days after he was brutally slain by Saudi agents.
“If the administration will not do what is right, Congress can, and I think Congress will,” Representative Tom Malinowski said during a gathering honoring Khashoggi’s legacy on Capitol Hill.
“We can and we should wipe the smug smile of impunity off of Mohammed bin Salman’s face and restore proper balance to our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”
Malinowski was one of roughly a dozen lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to call for those who carried out Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 slaying in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to be held to account.
After initially denying any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, Saudi Arabia eventually acknowledged he was killed in the diplomatic facility, seeking to blame his grisly slaying on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.
But that explanation has been roundly rejected by many, including a bipartisan group of lawmakers who insist the operation could not have been carried out without bin Salman’s blessing.
President Donald Trump and his top officials continue to defend the de facto Saudi ruler, consistently refusing to take any action against the acting monarch due to the Kingdom’s opposition to its regional and U.S. rival Iran and massive bilateral economic deals that are ongoing.
“If we decide that commercial interests should override the statements that we make and the actions that we take then we must admit that we have lost all moral authority to talk about any atrocities anywhere, anytime,” said Pelosi, vowing lawmakers will “come together as long as it takes until there is justice”.
“The murder of Khashoggi was an atrocity and an affront to humanity,” Pelosi added.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul seeking documents that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
His body has yet to be found amid reports it was dismembered and chemically dissolved.
Riyadh has indicted 11 people tied to Khashoggi’s killing and is seeking the death penalty for five suspects. But critics have suggested the individuals are merely taking the fall for bin Salman’s operation after an unexpected international outcry.