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Activists project Khashoggi image on Washington landmarks, Trump hotel

On second anniversary of his killing, rights groups project images of Khashoggi and Saudi prisoners across US capital
A photo of Jamal Khashoggi projected onto the Saudi embassy in Washington DC.
Image of Jamal Khashoggi projected onto Saudi embassy in Washington DC (Freedom First)
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Washington

Activists projected images of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and scores of jailed activists across Washington landmarks on Friday, marking the second anniversary of the brutal murder of the US-based journalist.

Khashoggi - a royal family insider turned critic - was killed and dismembered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018, in a case that has tarnished the reputation of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Freedom First, a campaign in partnership with human rights NGO's Amnesty International USA and the Freedom Initiative, ventured out into the city in the early hours to project images of prisoners on structures including the Washington Monument, the Trump International Hotel, the National Gallery of Art and the Saudi embassy.

Among the images projected onto the landmarks were those of women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul and physician Walid Fitaihi, both of whom are currently languishing in prisons in Saudi Arabia.

"On the anniversary of Jamal's assassination, we stand in solidarity with Saudi's prisoners of conscience," Fitaihi's son Ahmad said in a statement.

"If Jamal can be murdered in broad daylight and an American citizen can be treated this way in Saudi Arabia, who is safe?"

Khashoggi's death has become an international symbol of injustice and has highlighted Saudi Arabia's complete disregard for human rights and press freedoms.

A photo of Jamal Khashoggi projected onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Photo of Jamal Khashoggi projected onto Trump International Hotel in Washington (Freedom First)

A former columnist for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, Khashoggi was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials. His remains have not been found.

Riyadh has described the murder as a "rogue" operation, but both the CIA and Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, have linked bin Salman to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.

Philippe Nassife, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty USA, said the project was a way of showing that the rights group will continue its calls for justice and accountability on behalf of Khashoggi.

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"On the anniversary of your assassination, we promise you, Jamal, to always tell your story and to fight tirelessly until justice and truth are served. Rest in peace," he said. "To make sure that the horrendous crime of his assassination doesn't pass with impunity."

Earlier this month, Riyadh overturned the five death sentences previously issued against Khashoggi's killers in a final ruling, in a court trial many - including the journalist's fiancee Hatice Cengiz - called a "farce".

After the early morning sunlight drowned out the projected images, activists were on the streets, holding up signs and passing out pamphlets about his murder.

"Even when the lights go out and the cameras turn to the next big story, we'll still be here working tirelessly to get justice for our friend, Jamal," said Mohamed Soltan, an Egyptian-American rights advocate and a former political prisoner.

A person wearing a mask of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman standing in protest outside the Saudi embassy in Washington.
Person wearing mask of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman protests outside Saudi embassy in Washington (Freedom First)